Two crucial meetings about Kansas City International Airports future will be held this week, putting pressure on all those involved to separate reality from emotion.
The Airport Terminal Advisory Group, appointed by Mayor Sly James, will be at the center of the debate. The panel expects in April to recommend to the City Council an affordable plan to upgrade KCI.
• The first of four public hearings on the issue is scheduled today from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Oak Park High School, 825 N.E. 79th Terr.
The advisory group has asked people to give their views on any KCI-related topic they wish. Expect some to praise the airports current convenience for travelers. The night also likely will include give and take on possible plans to build a new, as yet undesigned, terminal.
• Starting at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday at City Hall, the advisory group expects to hear a presentation from its consultants, Frasca & Associates. As it showed with comments two weeks ago, the advisory firm is not afraid to challenge the everything-is-OK mantra some chant about KCI. Thats encouraging to see.
The consultants are expected to unveil a benchmarking presentation on the important relationship between the airlines cost of doing business at an airport and the fares they charge. This presentation will be even more valuable if it can show the connection to the loss or addition of flights in cities that have dramatically changed their airports, including Indianapolis and Sacramento.
Last month, Southwest Airlines representatives warned that boosting airlines costs could lead to a loss of flights at KCI. But Frasca later pointed out that terminal rents and landing fees comprise roughly 3 to 6 percent of an airlines total costs to fly, with fuel being one of the much larger expenses.
Three additional public hearings are scheduled to discuss KCIs future. The advisory group also will hear more from the airlines, local businesses and the consultants.
Along the way, people will give emotional presentations to keep KCIs current convenience or to totally make it over to impress future guests.
But its more important to focus on the reality of what changes should be pursued to best serve Kansas City-area travelers plus visitors over the next 50 years.