Midwest and Frontier Airlines Have Big Plans for Kansas City

Last Updated Mar 4, 2010 6:52 AM EST

Starting tomorrow, Midwest Airlines will move into Terminal C at Kansas City International Airport (KCI). Unless you're from Kansas City, you don't care, right? Not so fast. This piece of news may may have an impact on people across the country.

KCI wasn't built with connections in mind. Like Dallas/Ft Worth, the terminals have a semi-circular shape, and that means a very short walk from the car to the gate. Unfortunately, the airport was built in the days before massive security checks, so that's now a problem. The design of the terminal meant the airport needed security for each couple gates, so connecting passengers had to leave the secure area and go through screening all over again. As security became more strict, this became more and more inconvenient.

KCI is littered with ghosts of previous hub tenants who failed and ran away. Remember Eastern's operation? How about TWA? Vanguard? Braniff? Yup, it's been ugly for everyone who tried. But Midwest moved in a few years back and they've maintained a small hub operation for awhile now. Now that Midwest and Frontier are both owned by Republic, it looks like they have their eyes on growing the operation.

On Friday, Midwest moves into Frontier's gate area in Terminal C. Combined, they will occupy four gates that all lie within a single secure area that could, if necessary, accommodate a fifth gate. Not only will they all be behind a single checkpoint, but they've also strategically placed themselves right next to the international arrival gate.

Right now, Frontier and Midwest combined fly from Kansas City west to Denver, LA, San Francisco, and Seattle. The fly east to Milwaukee, Washington/National, New York/LaGuardia, and Boston. They're also flying down south to Florida and Mexico for the sunseekers. They've set up the kind of hub that makes sense in a city like this. These are all markets that should have strong local traffic. Combining that traffic with a little bit of connecting traffic makes the flights work even better.

But now that Republic's gates are all together, Midwest will be launching service to two less likely cities: Columbus and New Orleans will be getting daily flights.

Columbus is the most interesting to me. The flight from Columbus arrives in Kansas City at 850a, and that same plane turns and leaves for Seattle at 935a. Connecting flights leave for San Francisco at 930a and LA at 955a. The return looks just about the same. So this is Midwest's effort to see if more marginal local flights can take advantage of lagging connectivity options elsewhere? If it works, I imagine Kansas City's airport may soon become a much more busy place..

[Photo via Kansas City International Airport]
  • Brett Snyder

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