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The Race to Complete the KCI Airport on Time and on Budget

KCI’s new terminal is about to open.

Phasing out the old airport while completing the work at the new one is well under way. All major systems have been tested, hiring has started, and plans for the final integration are ready. To date, the project implementation has been successful. However, the project team does not take this success for granted and remains laser-focused on getting the airport 100% ready for opening day.

Video Spotlight: When Will KCI Airport Terminal Open? There Could Be Hints (January 19, 2023, Fox 4 News Kansas City) 

This post is based on The Kansas City Star article, ‘Building Is Built’: What’s Left to Be Done Before KCI’s New Terminal Opens in a Few Weeks?, by R.A. Cronkleton, January 12, 2023, and the YouTube video in the Spotlight. Image source: Aspen Stock/AGE Fotostock.

Discussion Questions:

1. So far, the airport is on time and on budget. What could threaten this remarkable performance in the last few weeks before opening?

Guidance: As mentioned in the article, there are many moving parts to this project as well as an enormous pressure to finish it by March 3rd. A project of this magnitude includes many major modules. These modules are completed separately, and unless there was seamless coordination among contractor teams, the final integration could result in unforeseen and costly issues. Another threat is the current workforce shortage, which could prevent the Vantage Airport Group from filling 1,000 positions by opening day. Although critical goals (and presumably, critical activities) were completed on time, it is possible that activities with slack (e.g., finishing touches) might be delayed to such an extent that they will have to be crashed to complete the project on time at an additional cost. The final step in the transition from the old airport to the new one could be more chaotic than anticipated, resulting in flight delays and cancellations.

2. What are the measures taken to manage congestion at the new airport?

Guidance: The old airport had insufficient capacity to absorb the increasing number of travelers in a growing metropolitan area (headquarters of major corporations and home of professional sports teams), which resulted in congestion. Accordingly, the new airport has more restaurants, increased baggage handling capacity, a larger parking garage, flexible ticketing capacity with a digital wall, expanded security checkpoints, more transit vehicles, and new space for runways.

3. What are the challenges associated with the final testing process?

Guidance: The final testing process involves the real-life simulation of at least 10,000 passengers arriving at the airport and using the terminal’s facilities: parking, ticketing, going through security, waiting at gates, boarding, claiming luggage, dining, etc. All pieces will have to function under high-traffic conditions. It is highly likely that multiple glitches will emerge and will have to be fixed in a timely fashion. Furthermore, it will be determined whether technologies that had been tested separately “work together” smoothly or need further integration and interfacing (e.g., changing flight schedules synchronized with digital wall).

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