Joseph Miller
A recent editorial published in the Kansas City Star asks the people of Kansas City to separate facts from emotion in the debate about adopting the Aviation Department’s $1.2 billion new terminal plan for Kansas City International Airport (MCI). However, the writer at the Kansas City Star would do well to avoid straw men in writing about the debate.

The editorial claims that critics who oppose the “new, as yet undesigned, terminal” are chanting a “everything-is-OK mantra.” First, if we are concerned about facts, while the design of the airport is far from final, the new terminal plan is not some blank slate. The design is a centralized terminal where Terminal A now is located, with plans for at least 37 contact gates, a new parking garage, and new facilities. These plans are readily available, and I encourage the writers at the Star to read them. The estimated cost is more than $1.2 billion, necessitating issuing airport revenue bonds, which requires a public vote. That chance to vote on whether the proposal is funded is the reason for the public discussion in the first place.

Second, who has the “everything-is-OK mantra?” Some oppose the new terminal plan because they find the current layout convenient. Others criticize the plan because its expense will reduce MCI’s competitiveness and financial health. That is not the same as thinking that the airport does not require any upgrades or repairs. The editorial does not name any group that says this, instead constructing a straw man to lambast.

After attacking phantom critics, the Star editorial draws a false equivalency between Southwest Airline’s statements on why it chooses to fly out of a certain airport and a consultant's (Frasca & Associates) opinion about why Southwest does that. Southwest Airlines transported the most passengers in the U.S. last year and provides 3,700 flights per day. It is also the largest carrier at MCI. Frasca & Associates is a consulting group that the city hired. Their opinions about the airline business are not equal. The facts are that building a $1.2 billion new terminal without expecting any real increase in demand for flights will make MCI the most expensive medium hub airport in the country. Airport users will have to pay for this honor, through higher airport fees, reduced airline service, or higher ticket prices.

Separating facts from emotion is important in any debate, but so is separating facts from logical fallacy. The question is not whether we plan for the future, but whether the $1.2 billion new terminal plan is acceptable. Many might argue that making MCI a convenient, competitive airport is more important than making "it over to impress future guests.”

Come to think of it, is vanity an emotion?

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About the Author

Joseph Miller
Policy Analyst
Joseph Miller was a policy analyst at the Show-Me Institute. He focused on infrastructure, transportation, and municipal issues. He grew up in Itasca, Ill., and earned an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and a master’s degree from the University of California-San Diego’s School of International Relations and Pacific Studies.