Kansas City Abandons New Airport Plans

May 3, 2016

Mayor Sly James announced the abandoning of new airport plans alongside City Councilwoman Jolie Justus at City Hall.
Credit Alex Smith / KCUR

Kansas City Mayor Sly James said Tuesday that low public support has prompted the city to abandon plans to build a new airport.

James said the city would shift its priorities to other issues after polls last week showed just 39 percent of voters supporting a ballot question on issuing airport revenue bonds to construct a new terminal.

“Although I still feel that a new air terminal is inevitable, it's clear that the time is not now,” James said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

All of the airlines operating out of Kansas City International Airport supported the proposal for a single-terminal airport, which is estimated to cost $964 million. The proposal would have gone to voters in August.

The airlines told the city that the abandonment of the proposal would not lead to any immediate changes in their service but might prevent them from expanding or offering additional flights in the future.

James, who supported the proposal, expressed his disappointment.

“At some point, we’re going to have to realize that this almost-50-year-old set of structures is going to have to do something to catch up modern day air travel and reality,” James said, referring to the current three-terminal layout.

James told reporters the fate of the 43-year-old airport would likely come up again soon but he was unsure whether it will happen during his remaining tenure in office.