New KCI terminal alone won't increase flight demand, say airline execs

Exec: Demand is major factor in increasing flights

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A representative of all four major airlines that operate out of Kansas City International Airport advised city officials that simply building a new terminal wouldn't result in more passengers or flights.

Ron Ricks, a vice president of Southwest Airlines speaking on behalf of his company as well as Delta, American/U.S. Air and United airlines, said the biggest concern for air carriers is cost.

"The taxpayers in Kansas City don't pay for these improvements; our airlines and our passengers do," Ricks said. "So we're trying to protect our companies, our shareholders, our investors and our employees, and we are trying to protect our customers from paying prices that they can't afford."

Ricks said there is a misconception that a brand new airport with more shops and amenities would bring in more flights, but that's just not true. He said adding more flights is based on demand, and without enough demand to turn a profit, airlines won't increase service. The same goes for renovations or rebuilding. Unless there's a demand that creates additional revenue that can pay for those changes, the airlines would take a big hit and may even have to decrease service, Ricks said.

Members in the committee said they were very pleased with the 90-minute session and hope to carry on the collaborative effort.

The next advisory meeting is on Jan. 28, and will give businesses a chance to share their opinions. Starting in February and into early March, the committee will host town hall meetings for the public. The committee plans on giving its recommendation to the city council in April.

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