A new KCI needs new oversight: Establish a regional airport authority

The path to building a new terminal at Kansas City International Airport remains uneven. Squabbling over the developer hasn’t ended; the design remains unfinished; groundbreaking is still months away.

On the other hand, voters have approved the project. Travelers should be confident a new terminal will be built and open for business roughly four years from now.

The Kansas City region should use that time to rethink how the airport is managed. The goal? Establish a new regional airport authority, with members from both sides of the state line, to oversee airport operations and finance.

The recommendation begins with a simple observation: KCI is a regional asset. According to one survey, nearly nine out of 10 airport users live outside of Kansas City. Less than one-third of passengers live in Missouri.

Yet the airport is owned and operated solely by the City of Kansas City and its City Council. Aviation is simply a department of city government.

Kansas City has done a relatively good job managing KCI over the years. But this summer’s chaotic terminal selection process and public vote prove supervision and oversight of a regional asset should truly be regional, with all stakeholders at the table.

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