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Southwest executives discuss the role airlines play in the new KCI terminal

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After years of discussion, design and construction, the new single terminal building at Kansas City International Airport is ready to open.

The new terminal will replace the current structure which dates back to 1972.

“When you look at this building, it’s over 50 years old, there was no point in trying to spend hundreds of millions of dollars renovating it,” said Steve Sisneros, vice president of airport affairs at Southwest Airlines.

Sisneros said Southwest Airlines has been working with Kansas City leaders on what the new terminal would look like.

“As part of the design effort, we tried to make it as customer-friendly as possible,” said Sisneros. “We have amazing concession and food options. Amazing artwork. When you walk into the facility, you see everything hanging from the ceiling. It’s truly a wonderful gateway to the city and the community.”

That community includes large corporations with employees who travel for business.

“There aren’t many places here at KCI where you can sit down, take out your laptop, connect to Wi-Fi and charge it up to be able to get that work done in real time,” said Kristina Hartman, a business traveler.

Dave Harvey, Southwest Business vice president and chief sales officer, said the new terminal was created with business travelers in mind.

“This new terminal means productivity, reliability and many of the comforts they need,” said Harvey. “It will only be a better and more efficient experience for our business travellers.”

The airline executive added that the new facility offers growth opportunities for the service.

“You think about where Kansas City is geographically, the heart of Central America, the heart of America, is a natural geographic point to start actually carrying some of that traffic flow in addition to our point-to-point non-stop service” Harvey said.

Harvey explained that corporate customer levels are expected to return to March 2019 levels by March of this year.

The rebound comes after fluctuations during the pandemic and several companies’ work-from-home policies.

In addition to the pandemic, Southwest Airlines suffered a logistical meltdown that resulted in hundreds of flight cancellations in December.

In an effort to reassure business travelers, Harvey said the company has made several improvements to avoid a recurrence.

“We’re making some short-term investments to make the operation more resilient as well as some technology investments to help with some of the real-time fixers when we’re trying to run an operation on time,” Harvey said. “And we have a huge portfolio of things that we are investing for the future for next winter season as well.”

Hartman said he can’t open the terminal.

“I’m really excited,” Hartman said. “This will be a tremendous opportunity for all of Kansas City, especially for us business travelers.”

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