Kansas City International celebrates new milestone

Published: Jun. 20, 2023 at 6:51 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - The Kansas City International Airport is celebrating a new milestone.

After four months of the new terminal being open, it’s now the second-fastest growing airport in the contiguous United States. It’s right behind Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina.

“We see a lot of similarities between Kansas City and Raleigh-Durham market, in that there was a quick restoration of air service into leisure markets,” said Justin Meyer, Interim Director of Aviation. “They’re up about 30% year over year. We’re about 27% up. So, we’re really close, but we’ll see where future growth leads us.”

Meyer said there are a few factors that are taking the airport to new heights, like new routes, larger planes and fewer constraints put in place during the pandemic.

“I do think what we’re seeing is a lot of the constraints that were in place that kept the airlines from flying larger aircraft or flying more frequencies,” Meyer said, “that those constraints being eliminated really allows them to fill out flight schedules here in Kansas City.”

Some travelers were surprised to hear the news, while others said it makes perfect sense.

“Yeah, it does kind of surprise me,” said one traveler. “We got off of our flight and got into the airport and we’re like, ‘Oh my gosh! It’s like a real airport.’ So nice to be nice and bright.”

“I’m impressed with what I see,” another traveler said. “We went to the other terminal and we got over here. And, wow, this kind of reminds me of California. LA’s a little bit bigger, but this is interesting. I like it.”

“I think we did an amazing job here at first, when it got done,” another traveler said. “I wasn’t sure because I was kind of really used to the old airport. But, they knocked this out of the park. It’s convenient and easy. I think people are learning how to pick up and drop off. So, I’m proud of our city.”

Meyer said that travel is ahead of pre-pandemic levels. For the month of July, they are up 3% compared to July of 2019.

“We’re up to 148 seats per departure this summer, which is all time high for us here,” Meyer said. “We’re also seeing things like more frequencies to existing destinations and new destinations. This terminal is just a real affirmation to what the opportunity is for Kansas City to be a key market, a key destination.”

KCI is expecting travel peak in July and August.

In July, Southwest Airlines will restore nonstop services to San Antonio, St. Paul, as well as Milwaukee.