Update for Wichita Airport?

Debate over a new terminal has reignited as preliminary cost estimates have escalated from $148 million to $184 million for an envisioned two-level terminal.


Remodeling the existing terminal would add two years to the project, disrupt airport activity and cost almost as much as building a new one.

There is some concern that fees to the airlines would rise if a new terminal was built, said airport advisory board member Charles Fletcher.

But airport officials have talked with the airlines throughout the process, he said, and so far, they've been happy with the prospect of a new terminal.

A new terminal would be more convenient for passengers, said Bryan Pettis, station manager for Atlantic Southeast Airlines in Wichita, which operates Delta Connection flights.

Now, he said, the walk from the ticket counter to the gate is "a pretty long distance."

'Waste of money'

Like Wilson, the business executive from Koch, not everyone sees a need for a new terminal.

"So far, I've not really seen a need for a new one," said Brian Fousel, a Thrifty Car Rental senior sales representative who was working the Thrifty counter Wednesday at the airport. A new one would be a "waste of money."

Thrifty has enough space at the current airport, he said.

Clint Bolte, a consultant to the printing industry, flies 250,000 miles a year and is in many airports around the country. He's in Wichita to do business this week.

"When I flew in yesterday (Tuesday), I thought it was a relatively modern airport, very clean, quite efficient," Bolte said. "I can't imagine what you can do to enhance the Wichita airport."

Randy Vautravers, president of Rand Graphics, agrees. Low fares are more important than a new terminal, he said.

"People don't drive to Kansas City and Oklahoma City because they want to," Vautravers said. "They're saving a few pennies."

Reach Brent D. Wistrom at 316-268-6228 or bwistrom@wichitaeagle.com [mailto:bwistrom@wichitaeagle.com].

MID-CONTINENT PASSENGERS

Total passengers at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport:

Year Passengers

2005 1,486,590

2004 1,498,749

2003 1,431,610

2002 1,337,270

2001 1,129,381

2000 1,227,083

Source: Wichita Mid-Continent Airport

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