Kansas City Aviation Department Director Contradicts Own Planning Document
After Southwest Airline Executive Vice President Ron Ricks criticized Kansas City Airport’s new $1.2 billion terminal plan as overly expensive, many media outlets questioned why the Kansas City Aviation Department had not consulted with Southwest (the airport’s No. 1 airline) before the terminal was designed. On Friday, Aviation Department Director Mark VanLoh struck back, claiming that he had spoken to Southwest in May, but that Ricks “may have been out of the loop.” He also stated that the Aviation Department had not discussed financial details because, “the department didn’t, and still doesn’t, know the exact financials because the possible rebuilding is — at the earliest — seven years away.”
The statement that terminal rebuilding is seven years away, at the earliest, is likely to confuse anyone who has read the Aviation Department’s own plan. Put out in April (one month before the meeting with Southwest), and still on the website as current, the plan states that construction is to begin in June of 2016. That’s less than three years away. In fact, the terminal is supposed to open on Feb. 1, 2019, slightly more than five years from today. Whatever number you view, it appears the Aviation Department was looking to rebuild far sooner than seven years from now. So where is the Aviation Department director’s number of seven years coming from? Is the plan on the website outdated? If so, why have they not issued a new document? And because VanLoh is claiming that he didn’t discuss financial details with Southwest because rebuilding is seven years away, does that mean that the plan written in April was outdated by May?
According to the information that the Aviation Department released earlier this year, they have a new terminal design, cost estimates, and a tentative construction schedule. But it seems like every time the Airport Advisory Group meets or the Aviation Department director talks to a newspaper, we hear entirely new cost estimates and timelines. For the good of Kansas City residents, the city should seek independent analysis of the Kansas City Airport and the new terminal plan.