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  • 28

Kansas looks to build airport in Johnson Co. to rival KCI

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The state of Kansas is looking to build a new airport in Johnson County to rival Kansas City International. Airlines are requesting construction of a new single terminal airport at MCI, and the state of Kansas is continually looking for new economic development opportunities. With more than 50 percent of MCI passengers coming from Kansas, we are exploring the possibilities of this project.” (www.kctv5.com) Mehr...

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blakerl
Larry Blaker 5
If Nexgen were to work, the one thing we are short is new runways. In most cities there is no place to expand. But will any one use the new airport say at someplace like NAS Olathe or New Century. I remember Mid America in IL. just over the bridge from St Louis and No uses it.
kdurbin
Kris Durbin 6
I absolutely love KMCI as a traveler. It's the only commercial airport in the country (that I am aware of) where I can arrive on the airport property, park, walk to the terminal, check a bag, go through security, AND order a beer to drink while I wait at my gate in under 15 minutes. As you can tell, I am in the no-renovation-club.

This all said, I think a commercial airport in Johnson County is the best alternative to doing nothing at all to KMCI. KIXD and KOJC are widely used for business travelers on charter or private a/c. KIXD could probably even sustain commercial traffic considering its location. It's also substantially closer than KMCI to 75% of the metro's corporations, with many of them headquartered in or near Overland Park (Sprint, Burns & McDonnel, Black & Veatch, OP Convention Center, Teva, YRC, etc, etc). The only thing about this idea that I fear is the tax burden to accomplish it. We have some of the highest taxes in the country in Johnson County for things like a bus system that nobody uses (read this: MASS Transit in suburban Kansas). The plan better be funded out of existing coffers or as a P3.
dc3orbust
dc3orbust 4
You stated all the things I love about KMKE ! Plus you can big home a cheesehead!
tyketto
Actually, this also has me thinking...

thinking that the powers-that-be are now regretting closing the airport they had in Grandview. I do remember that airport being open when we made our bi-annual drive from Omaha to Oklahoma down US-71. That would have been a great alternative for Overland Park now.
tbpera
Tom Pera 2
quick, I agree.. but from a business standpoint highly inefficient with all the terminal entries etc...hey, what am I saying... I don't like those big terminals with the 45 minute TSA wait etc... slap me in the head!
miguelnichols
Well I got ya beat. Parked my pickup in the lot at LBB and was sitting in my seat on the plane in 7 minutes once. No checked bag.
tyketto
Interesting.

It's been a while since I've driven through Kansas City, but could you say what the distance his between Overland Park and KMKC, compared to KOJC? It looks like it's 6s each way, when on I-435, compared to I-29 then I-35.
kdurbin
Kris Durbin 2
KMKC is not a viable commercial airport due to the difficult approach vectors. However KMKC is also difficult to get to due to its proximity to downtown and the inherent traffic on I-35, I-29, and I-70. KMKC from the Sprint HQ in OP is about a half hour drive without traffic, 45 minutes at least during rush hour. KOJC from the same location in rush hour is no more than a half hour, but KOJC is too small. KIXD is about a 40 minute drive from the same location. KMCI is easily an hour drive with traffic from the Sprint headquarters.
tyketto
Ugh.. then it really has become a lot worse.. thanks.

If it tells you anything, the last time I was in Kansas City, Bannister Mall was still open!
mwjones71
Michael Jones 1
KOJC and KIXD would both face challenges trying to add commercial aviation.

KOJC is a single runway just shy of 5,000 feet, and not rated for commercial weights. At the same time, residential construction has occurred almost up to the perimeter fence, requiring a lot of imminent domain cases to gain the space to extend the runway, and probably for construction of the terminal/parking/etc. You also are several miles from I-35 and US-69 that would require travel on surface streets, adding to access woes, not to mention the "neighbors" who despite the airport being there before them complain about the noise when the flight schools are doing touch and gos.

KIXD bears challenges in that the airports commission has allowed commercial development almost up to the Air Operations Area. It does have a 7300 foot runway with decent weight capacity, but its secondary runway is much too short for commercial. The other challenge is the only undeveloped space is on the "backside" of the airport (South East of the field) which would require new taxiways and more road infrastructure to support a terminal (the west side is serviced by a major roadway and there is an existing interchange with US56 from that side, whereas the access from "Old 56" to the East is not built for capacity. The positive thing about that undeveloped property is that the BNSF Railroad is just across "Old 56" from that land, so adding commuter rail to Downtown Kansas City would not be difficult (although Kansas City has not built any commuter rail infrastructure, there would still be the costs of building the railcar fleet)

That said, there is some talk among the locals to look at the former Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant (38°55'51.65" N 95°00'56.38" W). It is a large undeveloped piece of land that has been talked about building a theme park at for many years, but it has yet to happen. I wouldn't be surprised if the company that owns it wouldn't be interested in selling it back to the Government. It is only a Mile from State Highway 10, so the road infrastructure could be built out easily, there is an existing rail spur for commuter rail on the property, and there's enough room to build multiple runways of up to 10,000 feet length. Even better, there's only rural development around it, so there would be no significant concerns of encroachment or flight approach obstacles. The bad of this idea is since there is no existing runways or infrastructure to baseline from, the capital outlay to construct it would be much higher, and more time required to build a working airport.

All that said, I know I would consider flying into there from KDFW/KDAL on commercial flights, since my travel time to family South-East of there is less if I drive than if I fly to KMCI (considering the time to get to the airport, deal with security, deal with a rental car and drive back to my family's place on top of the 90 minute flight)
kdurbin
Kris Durbin 1
Interesting observations. The things you mention about KIXD, I actually see in favor of its use for commercial heavy traffic. There is land and there are facilities available to accommodate highway traffic to and from this site. Furthermore, any action here would obviously warrant major infrastructure changes, but KIXD is the closest we have in the area to anything that could reasonably become a new commercial airport. Sunflower is a great site. I like it because it's 10 minutes from my home. However, the cost to develop it would be earth-shattering, for what would be an airport that is less likely to become an international hub than it is to become a regional access airport.
davidrbarnes
David Barnes 1
Fair point, but what do you do when you're done with that beer? Last I was in MCI (which has been a couple years, mind you) the restrooms were all outside of security. And each secure "pod" had only one restaurant/bar, so you can either get pizza or BBQ, but not both while waiting at your gate. And the choice is decidedly NOT yours, either.

Additionally, KMCI is the only airport in the US that I've been to where I had to re-clear security to change planes domestically. When arriving, you were funneled directly to the hallway outside the secure area, with no option to remain airside.

In these regards, it's one of the worst designs (unless it's changed).

KDFW, for all it's flaws, boasts some similar advantages. The horseshoe design spreads the terminal traffic out considerably resulting in the short lines and wait times you praise, and you have the full choice of facilities inside the airport and can connect without enduring TSA's indignities a second time. The road layout at DFW is atrocious, but at least the terminal experience there is strong.
kdurbin
Kris Durbin 0
When I am done with that beer, I get on my plane. I don't know about you, but I don't generally arrive at any airport 6 hours before my flight just to hang out. Also, KMCI is not a hub for any airline, therefore layover itineraries are minimal, and the airlines that schedule layovers at KMCI have appropriate terminal layouts. You do not have to leave security to go to the bathroom (except for one gate managed by American Airlines.) The airlines that have gates separated between secure areas do so by their own choice. They refuse to invest in their terminal like Delta and Southwest have. This is common no matter where you go. Newark, San Diego, and DFW (as you mentioned) are all very similar setups, yet they lack the advantageous floor plans and road traffic layouts. The things you mention are all fabricated problems that the city uses to convince the ill-informed populous that we need a shiny, new, "modern" airport. We do not. Travel through KMCI regularly and you will see, it truly is a great airport.
davidrbarnes
David Barnes 1
When I was semi-regularly flying through MCI, it was connecting on WN. At that time, you were forced into the non-secure zone, then had to re-clear security. They've since de-focused on MCI at least partly because of some of these issues.

My most recent travel through MCI was on DL, and again there was only one dining option in the gate area, and no bathroom at that time.

As I noted, it's been a while since I was there, and at that time, restrooms weren't available inside of the secure area. If that's changed, I retract that portion of my criticism.

I'm not necessarily advocating for a new "modern" airport, but do suggest that there are things that can be done and perhaps need to be done to improve the shortcomings of MCI while keeping the advantages.

As for me and my usual travels: I park 60 minutes before departure, walk to the terminal, walk to my gate (no train for me, please and thank you) and am routinely at the gate 40 minutes before departure. Which airport offers this nearly unparalleled level of ease and convenience? ATL.
rkpeck
Roger Peck 2
I don't think the neighbors would be too keen on an expansion of IXD, but I wonder if Sunflower would not make a good location. Infrastructure would need to expand, perhaps rapid transit to downtown. Environmental cleanup is still a big unknown. But it's the largest undeveloped area in the county. As far as I can tell...
patpylot
patrick baker 2
this airport was designed before the need for TSA screening became a necessity, meaning bad flows of crowds during peak traveling times coupled with poor facilities for those who have been screened, now waiting for boarding. The worst parts of the new York city subway system in view for all to see. Cramped, crowded, uncomfortable seats, a true cattle car experience for those about to board cattle car airlines. But close in parking and few steps to the gates: not enough good things to speak of here.
bentwing60
bentwing60 1
So, should we start a Hatfield-McCoy's battle over a regional market, at best, when the roads, alleys, world is fallin apart! Read the activity reports on the faa website and cut it by a third in that area. I cut ADS by 1/2 cause I grew up there, I know busy. And KCI ain't it. A healthy regional competition is good, a dose of reality and cooperation is better. Lookin at the population density without tax colored glasses would be best!
boughbw
Brian Bough 1
No, it won't generate competition. Just look to the Lambert dominance over Mid-America in St. Louis. Mid America barely has passenger service at all. The same would be true here. The airlines aren't clamoring over MCI because of the facilities -- it's because of the market size.
I'm sure Gov. Brownback would greenlight it though -- he's figured out pretty much every other way to tank the state of kansas.
boughbw
Brian Bough 1
MCI is the greatest pre-9/11 airport in the country. Sadly, 9/11 happened. Even with the conveniences Mr. Durbin notes elsewhere, getting in and around security is still a huge PITA. Once your prepared for it, the experience improves somewhat, but it could all be better.

There is no reason that I can conceive why a better terminal could not be built on the West or South or Southeast side of the current one without disrupting travel one bit. Kansas City should explore this approach before the kansans become emboldened.

As for the Johnson County alternative... It is a terrible idea. Already MCI sits closer to the kansas side of things than the Missouri side, just because of how the Missouri flows W-NW. Besides that, building a major airport in Johnson County where the nicer suburbs are would tank fairly nice property values and homes in that area. However, the governor of kansas has done a great job tanking the rest of the state, so I'm sure this fits right into his mind as a "good" idea.
tbpera
Tom Pera 0
anything would be improvement over existing airport...
pilot62
Scott Campbell 0
MCI has the least room at gates of any airport of it's size, the 1/4 circle of gates is the worse design ever.

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