Johnson County needs a lot of things: an economy boost, better infrastructure and apparently a new airport. At least that’s what our governor thinks.
Governor Sam Brownback unveiled potential plans on Feb. 12 to build an airport smack dab in the middle of Johnson County; exact location is still TBD. Because why not spend many millions on building a brand new airport while KCI — the Kansas City International Airport — sits perfectly intact just 40 miles away?
Only two other cities in the U.S. have two international airports within their borders, and there’s no pretending KC has as many visitors as New York or Chicago. Granted, JoCo and KCMO are two separate entities, but they can essentially be considered one mega-Kansas-City metro. Our city simply doesn’t have that influx of visitors — only around 10 million passengers flow through the terminals each year — and has no need for two rival airports within such close proximity. One would inevitably outshine the other, creating competition amongst airlines and booking confusion.
We at the Harbinger ask that Governor Brownback considers the outrageous cost and competition involved in this situation and doesn’t pursue a pointless airport that would only cause trouble. Instead, we believe Brownback should put forth bipartisan efforts to work with Missouri officials to renovate and restore the ancient KCI airport – an effort that has recently been stalled in the Show-Me State.
What Kansas City needs is an airport overhaul, not an airport outright. We need to fix KCI, not “rival it,” as Brownback says.
And let’s be honest with ourselves: KCI sucks. There’s really nothing nice about it except that your grandma may think it’s more convenient to get through security. Sure, the three-clover layout makes it easy to hop off the Blue Bus and walk straight to your terminal, but that’s small beans when compared to the benefits of a modern-day airport: better airline infrastructure means we can host bigger planes, sell more retail and become the airport hub our Midwestern location has destined us to be.
KCI was built in 1951, long before the era of TSA where you could easily pass in and out of your terminal without bothering to take your belt off and empty your pockets. Because of that, the terminals are small and the concessions are nearly nonexistent. Once you make it through security, you’re basically trapped in a small cubicle with nothing to console you but a crusty Cinnabon.
The Kansas government has yet to estimate how much money and time it would cost to build a new airport in Johnson County, but it will likely be upward of $1 billion. Certainly there’s other things Brownback can think to spend that money on? Cough cough… education.
By focusing on strengthening what we already have, we can make a better front door for Kansas City – the airport is the first thing visitors will see and we don’t want to scare them off with the grimy star-patterned carpet or the complete lack of charging ports. Currently, Missourians have developed at least four plans to revamp KCI, but none are being pursued due to a lack of voter support.
As citizens, we have the power to change that. If you live in Missouri, tell your legislators you want to improve your airport. If you’re on the Kansas side, encourage your government to work with Missourians to revamp KCI.
If we work together, we’ll be left with not only a functional airport with a fancy facelift, but we’ll have a better understanding of our city as a whole and its ability to unite for a common goal. At the Harbinger, we believe that the creation of a new airport in Johnson County would go against these ideals, and would cause unnecessary stress and financial issues. For that reason, Governor Brownback, we ask you to please keep your bad ideas restrained to the education sector.