Just a few comments. Cranky Flier is stated as "Cranky Flier. A snarky airline industry blog established in 2006" run by a guy that hasn't been in the airline biz since 2005 and has been debunked by more airlines and industry leaders than Donald Trump has been by Dems and the GOP. He is called cranky for a reason. He hates SWA as well. A few years ago I remember Doug Parker, the last CEO of USairways before merger with AA called the crazy flier one of the most clueless and arrogant writers on the www. I'll look for a reference to that.
From the KC Star October 27 before vote:
"As the boss for the dominant airline serving KCI, [Southwest Airline's] Gary Kelly is one person who could make the call about if Kansas City gets more flight options from a new terminal. But he stopped short of making that promise. “Tell me what fuel prices will be in a year, tell me what the economy will be in a year, no one can predict the future,” Kelly said. “So there are no guarantees in life."
Sure I will be willing to bet more service in KC, but in the next 4 to 5 years (if the new terminal is ready by then) SWA will be ramping up it's operations in STL and other focus cities even more.
So here's my www industry fame... I have been in the airline and travel industry for 33 years and have owned Missouri's largest group travel company for the past 21 years. Whew, I'm ready to retire. Hehe. I fly SWA twice a week to LAX from either MCI or STL. Landed this evening in STL at 1am after a 2 hour delay and will return to MCI tmmrw evening on the 10:05pm STL to MCI flight. I will never be or never call myself a "cranky flier" nor will I start blogging. Anyway... here is my take.
I, personally, am thrilled KC will get a new terminal, however, I wish it would be built better to accommodate larger growth and connections. I am not a fan of single terminal / shared airlines gate areas. The only airport I can think of that actually has large volume operations on a single terminal / shared gate areas is PDX. Most others see more O&D traffic only and little growth in connections.
Let me put it this way... airlines don't pick airports because of glitzy lights, fountains, tiles and amenities.
Airlines pick airports for destinations, locations (flight times), passenger volumes / originating traffic , connections ease and schedules, landing costs, and bottom dollars (filling flights).
Let's break that down for STL and MCI.
Destinations: STL has 10 Fortune 500 companies, MCI has 1 on the Kansas side (Sprint) which looks dismal and about to be bought by TMobile anytime and literally disolved because of diplications. The Wall Street Journal says that it would be "disastrous" for the KC area in terms of job loss and economics. I'm worried about this for KC. STL also has nearly 200 more Fortune 1000 companies than the MCI area. Both airports are located perfectly. STL is centered for east coast medium hauls and west coast long hauls. In addition, cities like Tulsa, Wichita, OKC and Omaha are major areas that SWA in now connecting through STL... all of which are too close to MCI...as airlines, like SWA, have eliminated most of their short haul flights.
Passenger Volumes / Originating traffic: as of last month, STL has the highest yield on O&D for SWA over all medium sized airports. The STL Metro has almost a million more people than the immediate MCI area. Originating traffic will not only allow SWA to provide and fill nonstop flights but then provide the connections from other cities through STL. Originating traffic has to be there for nonstops in the first place. In July O&D passenger traffic In STL had a 7.2% increase over last July. In 4 or even 10 years time, STLs originating traffic will most likely continue to exceed that of the MCI area served.
Connections / schedules: Southwest LITERALLY has their own very nice and new terminal and now international gates in STL... with room to grow. Their investment in STLs Terminal 2 expansion (SWA alone has spent over 3 million in expansion terminal updates in STL in the past 5 years) and growth has been enormous in recent years and continues.
MCI's new terminal (the biggest drawback I see) is a single terminal of 30 to 35 gates. SWA will be "sharing' this terminal and gates around theirs with all airlines. This is where SWA "luvs" STL in many ways. They have their own operations (and most likely to add a crew base soon) in STL. SWAs major "hubs" all have this.... Chicago Midway, Phoenix (concourse), Denver (concourse), Dallas LUV, Houston Hobby, Baltimore (concourse), Orlando (concourse), Atlanta (concourse), see the trend.
SWA growth in STL over the past 15 years has been carefully cultivated. Their route network in the past 20 years (mainly in the past few years with acquiring AirTran) has boomed. They have been strong in crafting a profitable schedule and have grown to be the largest domestic USA carrier. They have went from (with growing pains) as a "low cost" and "focus city" airline to a big contender and legacy (almost 50 years) airline now having to position themselves a little differently moving connections through more less "hubs." They have trimmed fat and have / are luring the business travelers. Overall, they have done an amazing job IMO and STL has not only faired well... They have been poised by SWA for SWAs future growth.
Landing Costs: The new MCI will be funded completely by private dollars and the airlines. They haven't said how much yet.... but the airlines will be paying higher landing costs (around 9 to 12 dollars per pax) and gate costs in the new single terminal. In STL today they are paying 11.00 per pax, however their investment in their own terminal and concourse in STL and STL Internationals investment in SWA is deep seeded... remember they are getting the highest return on their O&D pax in STL for medium sized airports. In addition, STL has a larger runway capacity and ability to land / take off during busy times/schedules for all airlines and in inclement weather.
I personally think STLs hundred of millions of dollars in renovations in all terminals and concourses looks great.
I think that it is long overdue for a new MCI, but it may be a little too late when looking at airline expansion. The airlines serving MCI now are doing just that "serving" MCI and the demand and traffic they are warranting. The new airport will give travelers a better view and amenities but service will most likely stay the same (as long as the airlines bottom dollars and planes are filled). NEW airports (ask Indy and many others) bring little if any new service or routes. If an airline felt there was money to be made in MCI right now.... They will put their plane on schedule NOW as there is not a capacity issue in the current configuration and for O&D traffic. The "new airport = more service" is a myth and the airlines and industry will tell you that too.
But overall, it will be a mega better "welcome to KC" than the craphole on life support KC has now.