Dollars & Sense

KCI soon will start Terminal A shutdown with United Airlines move

Updated: 2013-10-24T15:40:46Z

By STEVE ROSEN and MATT CAMPBELL

The Kansas City Star

Travelers take note: The mothballing of Terminal A at Kansas City International Airport is about to get underway.

Starting Oct. 31, all United Airlines flights will operate in Terminal C in newly remodeled space, the Kansas City Aviation Department said Wednesday.

That will leave only US Airways in Terminal A — and it will make the jump to C early next year. Then the “red terminal” will remain empty and silent until a decision is made whether to demolish it to make way for a single new terminal to serve all air travelers at KCI.

“When you say ‘closed’ it brings to mind all these dark images,” airport spokeswoman Kathleen Hefner said of the plan for Terminal A. “It doesn’t mean turning off all the utilities and boarding up the windows.

“We’ll have to keep it above freezing levels and keep it operable in case we need it. A sports team might fly in at the spur of the moment or a charter flight might drop in.”

The moves will mean some, as yet undetermined, utility cost savings. But airport staffing will be reassigned so there will be no appreciable personnel cutbacks. Terminal A will be cleaned less often, but security patrols will continue.

The concessions in A will also make the move to Terminal C. For United passengers, Hefner said, the change will mean access to a new concession beyond the security check, something those travelers have been without.

There have been no major renovations to Terminal A in nearly a decade, other than the addition of a snack and deli kiosk inside security near Gate 11 and some small bathrooms.

The moves out of Terminal A were precipitated by the merger of United and Continental Airlines in 2010 and the pending merger of American Airlines and US Airways this year. The resulting operations will now all be in Terminal C, filling previously dead space there.

United’s gates will be 61-69 at the beginning of Terminal C.

Travelers leaving on United before next Thursday need to be aware that they will return to Terminal C. If using the garage or circle parking, travelers can use the Red terminal bus to get to their vehicles, the city said.

Those in the Economy parking lot can go to the lot’s transfer station to get to their vehicle.

United will move after the last flight arrives on Oct. 30, scheduled for 11:28 p.m. The first United flight out the following day is scheduled for 6 a.m. in Terminal C.

United has 33 departures and 33 arrivals each day from KCI.

The Aviation Department is already posting messages on the overhead electronic signs entering the airport, and other roadside signs are expected to go up in the next few days. The bus drivers are also alerting travelers about the changes, and United flight attendants will probably remind passengers upon landing.

Up-to-date flight and gate information is available at www.flykci.com

Placing Terminal A in mothballs does not mean the decision is irreversible. Discussions are underway on a controversial, $1.2 billion proposal to replace all three existing terminals with a single terminal.

Proponents say that makes more sense for security and traveler comfort. Opponents say the current design offers optimal convenience.

“I don’t think this action (mothballing Terminal A) should be read that we’re going to demolish it or anything,” said City Councilman Russ Johnson, chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “That decision is yet to be made formally by all the people looking at it. In the meantime, it’s there when we need it, but we’ll not be paying the expenses of keeping it open.”

To reach Steve Rosen, call 816-234-4879 or send email to srosen@kcstar.com. To reach Matt Campbell call 816-234-4902 or send email to mcampbell@kcstar.com

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