By Christina Marsh

Aviation Pros

Feb. 13, 2024

The $1.5 billion, 1.1 million-square-foot Kansas City International Airport (MCI) terminal opened Feb. 28, 2023.

Originally built in 1972, MCI was comprised of three terminals, featuring two horseshoe-shaped buildings – each 2,200 linear feet by 72 feet deep. However, 50 years after being built, the terminal was in need of an update.

To overcome a lack of efficiencies posed by the original airport’s design, a new terminal at MCI has been constructed.

The new design features one terminal (instead of the three) and is comprised of 39 glass boarding bridges – the most all-glass boarding bridges in the United States – more than 50 concession areas with 80 percent being locally based in Kansas City, and $5.7 million of public art from 28 different, international artists with 75 percent of those having ties to Kansas City.

In the old terminals, systems such as security screening and baggage handling were separate, which prevented operations continuity in the event of staffing or mechanical issues. Connecting passengers were forced to wait in spaces with no food or seating unless they exited secured areas and later passed through security screening a second time.

Kansas City Aviation Department Director of Aviation Melissa Cooper said passengers had a love-hate relationship with the 1972 terminals.

“There was a certain convenience of parking almost at the curb and walking a short distance through cramped security lines to the narrow concourses. But air travelers complained about the limited restrooms, few concessions, and lack of modern amenities – and the aging design prevented significant improvements,” Cooper said.

The new terminal was designed with the future in mind. The H-shaped terminal spans two levels and is supported by a 6,220-space parking garage and separate roadways for departing and arriving passengers.

The upper Departures level includes a large check-in hall with all airline ticket counters, 16 security screening lanes, two concourses linked by a connector with moving walkways, 50-plus shops and restaurants, and many other amenities. Most terminal services are now located post-security so that passengers have access to all amenities.

The lower Arrivals level area features eight baggage carousels served by a shared control system for redundancy, a customer service desk, a military USO, and a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol area for international flights.

The Kansas City Aviation Department retained Paslay Group of Fort Worth, Texas, in 2018 to serve as Executive Program Manager and the Owner’s Representative for Build KCI. Paslay Group provided Kansas City with a small team of highly experienced airport development executives who served as an extension of the Aviation Department’s leadership team to lead and manage the capital program. The firm’s EPM efforts allowed the owner to increase the program scope by five gates to a total of 40 and reduce costs more than $400 million from the original contractor pricing.

Cooper said the airport is honored to see the Build KCI Single Terminal Program be recognized by Airport Business as a Project of the Year.

“It took vision, grit, determination, and collaboration among many teams to deliver our terminal modernization program on time and under budget,” Cooper said. “We are proud that the new single Kansas City International Airport terminal showcases shops, services, and restaurants with a local flavor and feel and positions the Kansas City, Mo., region for ongoing growth and prosperity.”

Cooper said in 2022, MCI’s old terminals ranked low in passenger satisfaction. But in 2023, after the airport welcomed travelers to the NCAA Big XII Conference Basketball Tournament and the 2023 NFL Draft, MCI was named the best airport in America by the online travel magazine

“FIFA World Cup arrives here in 2026. That’s progress,” she said.

Location: Kansas City International Airport (MCI). Kansas City, Missouri
Project: Build KCI Single Terminal Program
Completion: Feb, 28, 2023
Key Participants: Kansas City International Airport (MCI), Paslay Group, Clark | Weitz | Clarkson (CWC), Skidmore Owings Merrill (SOM), Vantage Airport Group, Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate, and Henderson Engineers
Cost: $1.5B

This story was originally published by Aviation Pros.

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