Patrick Tuohey
In an agreement emanating from the Kansas City City Council, according to the Kansas City Star:
Aviation officials and the eight airlines serving Kansas City pledge to collaborate over the next two years on plans for airport terminal improvements. The agreement, with council approval, would take effect May 1 and sets the stage for both sides to work together on a project the public can embrace.

In other words, the Kansas City Aviation Department is announcing that it will do its job: work with airlines to determine what is best for the airport and Kansas City. Remember that Aviation Department Director Mark VanLoh once said on the radio:
. . . he works for the airlines and not the flying public.  He said his goal is to make things easier for the airlines, and not necessarily for passengers.

Yet VanLoh didn't consult the airlines about the new terminal idea before going public. When the airlines finally learned of the plans, they "cautioned against building something so expensive that it drives up costs and drives away airlines" (as the Show-Me Institute pointed out months earlier).

Once the public learned of the project, they balked as well. VanLoh complained about local politics hampering his efforts. As a result of VanLoh's own failures to communicate with important stakeholders, the mayor appointed a window-dressing advisory group. The advisory group spent $100,000 on a consultant that attempted to downplay the airlines' important concerns. (This is on top of the $117,000 the Aviation Department contracted out to convince the public that a new terminal is a good idea.)

This could have all been avoided if VanLoh just did what he was hired to do. According to the Star, Kansas City City Councilman John Sharp said of the recent deal:
“I feel clearly the city dropped the ball in not consulting with the airlines earlier,” Sharp said, adding that the lease approach should address that shortcoming.

For his part, VanLoh is "thrilled" about the new agreement:
Because after what we’ve all seen and heard, we got agreement from all parties that we’re going to sit down together and get us into the future somehow.

That is how bad the airport situation has become in Kansas City — an agreement to merely sit down together with one's tenant airlines is thrilling. It's no wonder that some in Kansas City have already called for new airport leadership.

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About the Author

Patrick Tuohey
Patrick Tuohey
Director of Municipal Policy

Patrick Tuohey is the Director of Municipal Policy at the Show-Me Institute.