The commercial airlines that use Kansas City International Airport said they would prefer to work with the Burns & McDonnell-led KCI Hometown Team for a $1 billion single terminal project, if voters approve the idea in November.
“We are a strong supporter of the Kansas City community and our preference would be to stay local and work with KCI Hometown team,” said a statement from the consortium of airlines that fly passengers in and out of KCI.
The statement late Friday was in response to a question from The Star asking if the airlines would weigh in on a selection process that has been evaluating four proposals submitted in July to convert KCI’s three-terminal design into one building.
Despite the preference for Burns & McDonnell, the airlines indicated they would be happy to work with any of the proposers, which also includes the AECOM-led KCI Partnership, Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate and Jones Lang LaSalle.
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“No matter which team is selected, we will be happy to work together with the city to build a terminal that would improve the customer experience for all KCI travelers and Employees today, tomorrow, and in the decades to come,” the airlines’ statement said.
A six-member KCI selection committee is expected to announce its recommended team on Thursday. The recommendation, if it happens, would need City Council approval. It would allow Kansas City to begin negotiations with a single team and also signal the start of a formal campaign meant to persuade voters of the merits of a single terminal plan.
City Hall has long sought a single terminal because it wants to replace what city leaders think is an outdated three-terminal design, but have run up against public opinion that hasn’t always been keen on the idea.
The airlines, which have been part of the deliberations, would likely have an influential voice in the recommendation. Airlines that use KCI, led by Southwest Airlines, are a significant financial contributor to airport terminal projects.
“For the Airlines to say the Burns & McDonnell KCI HOMETOWN Team has the best proposal for KCI, its passengers and the airlines — is the ultimate stamp of approval and we are proud and grateful for their support,” said Burns & McDonnell vice president Mike Brown in a written statement.
Burns & McDonnell earlier this year presented City Hall with the idea of pursuing a single terminal at KCI with a private financing model that was thought to allay voter concerns about how the $1 billion project would be funded.
When city leaders announced the plan in May, the idea of handing a sole source contract to Burns & McDonnell was met with skepticism. Then City Hall put the project out for qualifications-based competitive proposals, which led to three other teams signaling their interest. Voters in November will ultimately decide whether the project happens or not.