Moving Forward on MCI
Given the significant opposition from the public and likely from members of the City Council, Kansas City Mayor Sly James has suspended his pursuit of a new terminal for 2016. This is welcome news on a proposal that the Show-Me Institute has criticized from the beginning.
Just days ago the Mayor was calling a new terminal inevitable, echoing a similar claim in 2012 from former City Councilman Ed Ford (who subsequently apologized for the comment). Indeed there may someday be changes proposed for MCI—changes welcomed by airlines and voters alike—but how do we get there from here?
The first thing Kansas City needs to do is jettison anything having to do with this new terminal process. Despite years of hearings, presentations, and public forums on the matter, a large swath of voters remains skeptical. Second, Kansas City needs a new Aviation Department director with experience running an airport, perhaps even building a new terminal, and most importantly who possesses integrity, a commitment to transparency, and a respect for the airlines and the people they serve. That search should be nationwide and should begin immediately.
Once installed, that person needs to assess MCI’s condition and capabilities. (One can only imagine the state of Terminal A right now.) Where MCI needs maintenance, it should get it. Where it needs rehabilitation, it should get it. And perhaps, if it needs a major structural overhaul, it should get that too. That will only come once the public trust has been restored. The city manager and Council have an opportunity to rebuild that trust with a new Aviation Department director.