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Kansas City International Airport

Coordinates: 39°17′51″N 94°42′50″W / 39.29750°N 94.71389°W / 39.29750; -94.71389
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Kansas City International Airport
Aerial view in 2017
Airport typePublic
Owner/OperatorKansas City Aviation Department
ServesKansas City metropolitan area
LocationKansas City, Missouri, United States
OpenedOctober 23, 1972; 51 years ago (1972-10-23)
Hub forEastern Airlines, LLC
Elevation AMSL1,026 ft / 313 m
Coordinates39°17′51″N 94°42′50″W / 39.29750°N 94.71389°W / 39.29750; -94.71389
FAA airport diagram
FAA airport diagram
Direction Length Surface
ft m
01L/19R 10,801 3,292 Asphalt
01R/19L 9,500 2,896 Concrete
09/27 9,501 2,896 Asphalt
Statistics (2023)
Aircraft operations115,751
Total cargo (freight+mail)(lbs.)237,609,464
Source: KCI Traffic Statistics[1]
Airport from the east
Kansas City Overhaul Base in 2007

Kansas City International Airport (IATA: MCI, ICAO: KMCI, FAA LID: MCI) (originally Mid-Continent International Airport) is a public airport in Kansas City, Missouri, located 15 miles (24 km) northwest of Downtown Kansas City in Platte County, Missouri.[2] The airport was opened in 1972 and a new complex in the airport was completed in 2023, replacing the old one. MCI replaced Kansas City Municipal Airport (MKC) in 1972, with all scheduled passenger airline flights moved from MKC to MCI. It serves the Kansas City Metropolitan Area and is the primary passenger airport for much of western Missouri and eastern Kansas.

The airport covers 10,680 acres (4,320 ha) and has three runways.[2][3] The airport has always been a civilian airport and has never been assigned an Air National Guard unit. Since the 2020 pandemic shutdown, the number of peak-day scheduled aircraft departures has been steadily recovering. As of October 2022, there were 303 daily arrivals and departures.[4] Nonstop service was offered to 47 airports, including Cancun, Montego Bay, San José del Cabo, and Toronto.

MCI is also a former hub for Braniff, Eastern, Midwest, TWA and Vanguard.



Kansas City Industrial Airport was built after the Great Flood of 1951 destroyed the facilities of both of Kansas City's airlines, Mid-Continent Airlines and TWA, at Fairfax Municipal Airport. The facilities were across the Missouri River from the city's main Kansas City Municipal Airport, which was not as badly damaged. TWA's main overhaul base was a former B-25 bomber factory at Fairfax, and TWA commercial flights flew out of the main downtown airport.

Subsequently Kansas City planned to build an airport with room for 10,000-foot (3,000 m) runways and knew the downtown airport would not be large enough.

Kansas City already owned Grandview Airport south of the city with ample room for expansion, but the city chose to build a new airport north of the city away from the Missouri River following lobbying by Platte County native Jay B. Dillingham, president of the Kansas City Stockyards, which had also been destroyed in the flood.[5] TWA moved its Fairfax plant to the new airport and also its overseas overhaul operations at New Castle County Airport in Delaware.[6]

The site just north of the then-unincorporated hamlet of Hampton, Missouri, was picked in May 1953 (with an anticipated cost of $23 million) under the guidance of City Manager L.P. Cookingham.[7] Ground was broken in September 1954.[8] The first runway opened in 1956; at about the same time the city donated the southern Grandview Airport to the United States Air Force to become Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base.

TWA's Kansas City Overhaul Base at its peak in the 1960s and 1970s was Kansas City's largest employer, with 6,000 employees.

Although Mid-Continent merged with Braniff in 1952, Kansas City named the new airport on the basis of Mid-Continent's historic roots of serving the Mid-continent Oil Field. Mid-Continent had renamed from Hanover Airlines in 1938 after moving its headquarters from Sioux City, Iowa, to Kansas City when it began service to Tulsa and other cities in the oil field.[9]

In 1954, TWA signed an agreement to move its overhaul base to the airport; the city was to build and own the $18 million-base and lease it to TWA.[10] However, the downtown airport continued to be Kansas City's passenger airport; a 1963 Federal Aviation Agency memo called the downtown airport "one of the poorest major airports in the country for large jet aircraft" and recommended against spending any more federal money on it.

Along with the cramped site, there were doubts that the downtown site could handle the new Boeing 747. Jets had to make steep climbs and descents to avoid the downtown skyscrapers on the 200-ft (60-m) Missouri River bluffs at Quality Hill, east of the approach course a mile or two south of the south end of the runway, and downtown Kansas City was in the flight path for takeoffs and landings, resulting in a constant roar downtown. Mid-Continent was surrounded by open farmland.

On July 1, 1965, Continental Airlines Flight 12 overran the runway while landing at Kansas City Municipal Airport. The Civil Aeronautics Board determined that the pilots of the Boeing 707 had landed properly within the touchdown zone for their ILS approach, and though deploying spoilers, thrust reversers, and brakes, the remaining runway distance was too short for them to safely stop in heavy rain and tailwind conditions.[11] Though having attempted to improve the runway surface and braking performance, the Airline Pilots Association said that many commercial pilots continued to "blacklist" the airport. A new airport, with longer runways, would be required to satisfy regulatory runway safety area requirements.[12]

TWA's "Airport of the Future"[edit]

In 1966, voters in a 24:1 margin approved a $150 million bond issue following a campaign by Mayor Ilus W. Davis to move the city's main airport to an expanded Mid-Continent. The city had considered building its new airport 5 miles (8.0 km) north of downtown Kansas City in the Missouri River bottoms, as well as locations in southern Jackson County, Missouri, but decided to stick with the property it already owned.

The airport property was in an unincorporated area of Platte County until the small town of Platte City, Missouri, annexed the airport during construction. Kansas City eventually annexed the airport. Kivett and Myers designed the terminals and control tower; it was dedicated on October 23, 1972, by U.S. Vice President Spiro Agnew. Labor strife and interruptions raised its cost to $250 million. Kansas City renamed the airport Kansas City International Airport (although it kept MCI as its airport code). TWA, Braniff, and everyone moved to MCI.

Many design decisions were driven by TWA, which envisioned the facility as its hub, with 747s and Supersonic Transports whisking people from America's heartland to all points on the globe. Streets around the airport included Mexico City Avenue, Brasília Avenue, Paris Street, London Avenue, and Tel Aviv Avenue. TWA vetoed concepts to model the airport on Washington–Dulles and Tampa, because those two airports had people movers, which it deemed too expensive. TWA insisted on "Drive to Your Gate" with flight gates 75 feet (23 m) from the roadway (signs along the roadway showed the flights leaving each gate). The single-level terminals had no stairs, similar to a plan that would be built at Dallas/Fort Worth.

TWA's vision for the future of flight that had been pioneered by the TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport in New York City (which also featured cars close to the gates design) proved troublesome almost from the start. The terminals turned out to be unfriendly to the 747 since passengers spilled out of the gate area into the halls. When security checkpoints were added in the 1970s to stem hijackings, they were difficult and expensive to implement since security checkpoints had to be installed at each gate area rather than at a centralized area. As a result, passenger services were nonexistent downstream of the security checkpoint in the gate area. No restrooms were available, and shops, restaurants, newsstands, ATMs or any other passenger services were not available without exiting the secure area and being re-screened upon re-entry.

Shortly after the airport opened, TWA asked that the terminals be rebuilt to address these issues. Kansas City, citing the massive cost overruns on a newly built airport to TWA specification, refused, prompting TWA to move its hub to St. Louis.[13]


Kansas City International Airport in 2023
Terminal C check-in hall for American, taken on the day before closing.

After the establishment of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in 2001, MCI was one of five airports where the TSA has experimented with using independent contractors to inspect travelers. The airport uses AKAL Security, an independent contractor that conforms to TSA's recruiting and training standards. TSA supervises these independent contractors, but they are not federal employees.[14]

A $258 million terminal renovation was completed in November 2004. Improvements included, amongst other things, increasing the size of each structural bay to provide larger spaces for vestibules, concessions, retail and public seating as well as new bathrooms inside security.[15] Following the renovations, all three terminals included blue terrazzo floors.[16] In May 2007, the final portion of the project, a new rental car facility and additional art fixtures, were completed.

In March 2010, the Transportation Security Administration announced that the airport would be one of the first in the U.S. to have full-body scanners with the first one used at Southwest Airlines beginning in the summer of 2010.[17]

The city government has requested, but the airport has been unable to change its original FAA location identifier of MCI for Mid-Continent, which had already been registered on navigational charts. Further complicating requests to change the designation, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) at the time reserved all call letters with "K" or "W" for radio and television stations, so KCI was not viable.[18] The "W" and "K" restrictions have since been lifted, but the FAA is reluctant to change names that have appeared on navigational charts. The "KCI" IATA designation is also already assigned to another airport, Kon Airport in East Timor. Nearby New Century AirCenter also carries the IATA code JCI (although the FAA refers to it as IXD and the ICAO as KIXD), which could also lead to confusion.

Icelandair launched a seasonal route to Reykjavík, Kansas City's first transatlantic flight, in May 2018. The airline operated the service with Boeing 757s.[19] In the wake of the Boeing 737 MAX groundings, Icelandair decided to make changes to its network to increase profitability; these included severing the link to Kansas City. The last flight departed in September 2019.[20][21]

In March 2019, the old Terminal A was demolished to make way for a new single terminal.[22] Designed by SOM Architects, the $1.5 billion project was the largest single infrastructure project in Kansas City’s history.[23]

Terminal C interior shortly before closure, January 2023

In early 2020, Kansas City International Airport suspended all international flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The airport lifted all COVID-19 travel restrictions in March 2022.

The parking garage and new terminal

The airport's new terminal opened on February 28, 2023.[24] It features spacious gate areas and nearly 50 local and national food and beverage options. The terminal opened with 40 gates and the ability to expand up to 50 gates in the future. Two moving walkways expedite transfers between the two concourses to make navigating the airport easier. Consolidated and flexible security checkpoints were designed to accommodate changes in passenger volume. A new 6,200-space garage was built adjacent to the terminal to allow convenient covered parking near the terminal.[25] The new facility also utilizes Amazon One, a technology that allows people to pay using their palm.

The amount of international flights has increased, with Southwest Airlines having commenced nonstop seasonal services to San José del Cabo and Montego Bay.[26]



Departure hall of the new terminal

The airport has a single terminal with 40 gates and two concourses: Concourse A has 13 gates (A1–A20) and Concourse B has 27 gates (B40–B69).[27]

Ground transportation[edit]

The airport is near major highways Interstate 29 and Interstate 435. The airport has a consolidated rental car facility and each terminal has four rental car shuttle bus stops operated by First Transit and REM Inc. The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority has public bus service to the airport. Several private scheduled shared shuttle services operate from MCI to regional cities (including Saint Joseph, Missouri; Columbia, Missouri; Topeka, Kansas; Lawrence, Kansas); and military bases (Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri; Fort Riley, Kansas; Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; and Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri).

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Air Canada Express Toronto–Pearson [28]
Alaska Airlines Portland (OR), Seattle/Tacoma [29]
Allegiant Air Seasonal: Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Punta Gorda (FL), St. Petersburg/Clearwater[30]
American Airlines Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, Phoenix–Sky Harbor
Seasonal: Cancún, Philadelphia, Washington–National
American Eagle Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Philadelphia, Washington–National
Seasonal: New York–LaGuardia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Salt Lake City, Seattle/Tacoma
Seasonal: Boston, New York–LaGuardia
Delta Connection Boston, New York–JFK, New York–LaGuardia [32]
Frontier Airlines Denver, Philadelphia[33]
Seasonal: Cancún, Phoenix–Sky Harbor
Southwest Airlines Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Burbank,[35] Cancún, Chicago–Midway, Dallas–Love, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Houston–Hobby, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Milwaukee,[36] Minneapolis/St. Paul,[36] Nashville, New Orleans, New York–LaGuardia, Oakland, Orlando, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Sacramento (begins October 6, 2024),[37] San Antonio, San Diego, St. Louis, Tampa, Washington–National
Seasonal: Columbus–Glenn,[38] Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Fort Myers, Miami, Montego Bay,[39] Myrtle Beach, Panama City (FL), Pensacola, Portland (OR), Raleigh/Durham, San José del Cabo,[39] Sarasota, Seattle/Tacoma
Spirit Airlines Boston (begins July 10, 2024),[41] Dallas/Fort Worth (begins July 10, 2024),[42] Detroit (begins July 11, 2024),[42] Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Newark (begins July 10, 2024),[43] Orlando, Tampa[44]
Seasonal: Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Myrtle Beach, Pensacola, Phoenix–Sky Harbor
Sun Country Airlines Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul [46]
United Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, San Francisco
Seasonal: Houston–Intercontinental, Washington–Dulles
United Express Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark, San Francisco, Washington–Dulles
Seasonal: Chicago–O'Hare


Amazon Air Lakeland
Atlas Air[48] Baltimore, Cincinnati, Riverside/March Air Base
FedEx Express Fort Worth/Alliance, Indianapolis, Memphis, Oakland
Freight Runners Express Fargo, Columbia
DHL Aviation Cedar Rapids, Cincinnati
UPS Airlines Louisville, Ontario, Rockford, Sioux Falls, St. Louis


A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 prepares to land.

Top destinations[edit]

Busiest domestic routes from MCI (January 2023 – December 2023)[49]
Rank Airport Passengers Carriers
1 Colorado Denver, Colorado 500,000 Frontier, Southwest, United
2 Georgia (U.S. state) Atlanta, Georgia 479,000 Delta, Southwest
3 Texas Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 302,000 American, Spirit
4 Arizona Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Arizona 288,000 American, Frontier, Southwest
5 Illinois Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 277,000 American, United
6 Nevada Las Vegas, Nevada 263,000 Southwest, Spirit
7 Illinois Chicago–Midway, Illinois 253,000 Southwest
8 Texas Dallas–Love, Texas 210,000 Southwest
9 North Carolina Charlotte, North Carolina 199,000 American
10 Florida Orlando, Florida 195,000 Southwest, Spirit

Airline market share[edit]

Largest airlines at MCI
(January 2023 – December 2023)[49]
Rank Airline Passengers Share
1 Southwest Airlines 5,383,000 48.11%
2 Delta Air Lines 1,705,000 15.24%
3 American Airlines 1,432,000 12.80%
4 United Airlines 920,000 8.22%
5 Spirit Airlines 373,000 3.33%
Other 1,375,000 12.29%

Airport traffic[edit]

Annual passenger traffic at MCI airport. See Wikidata query.

Annual traffic[edit]

MCI Airport Traffic and Statistics 2019-Present[50]
Year Passengers Operations Freight+Mail (lbs.)
2019 11,795,635 123,395 212,030,175
2020 4,493,669 73,715 198,296,456
2021 7,677,004 87,843 245,812,571
2022 9,802,820 102,905 259,694,359
2023 11,545,742 115,751 237,609,464


  • April 13, 1987 – Buffalo Airways (of Waco TX) Flight 721 operated by Burlington Air Express cargo flight from Wichita Mid-Continent Airport descending in a thick fog with half-mile visibility clipped a 950-ft-high ridge 3 miles (4.8 km) short of the runway. All four occupants were killed, the deadliest accident in the airport's history.[51]
  • September 8, 1989 – USAir Flight 105 from Pittsburgh International Airport clipped four power lines 75 feet (23 m) above the ground 7,000 feet (2,100 m) east of Runway 27 after making adjustments after being told by the MCI controller that lights were out on the south side of the airport. The flight then landed in Salina, Kansas. None of the 64 persons on board were injured.[52]
  • February 16, 1995 – Air Transport International Flight 782, McDonnell Douglas DC-8 flight to Westover Metropolitan Airport, which had aborted a take off six minutes before because of loss of directional control, crashed on Runway 1L on another take-off because of failure of the directional control when its tail hit the runway. All three on board were killed.[53]
  • August 21, 2001 – At 01:11 am, an America West Airlines Boeing 737-300 operating as Flight 598 from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport touched down on Runway 27 to the left of the center line during severe weather. The first officer in command failed to correct for leftward drift and the aircraft exited the runway approximately 1,000 feet after touchdown. Both engines were destroyed by foreign object debris, but the aircraft was repaired and returned to service. No fatalities and only one injury were reported by the 53 passengers and 6 crew.[54][55]
  • July 16, 2014 – An Embraer E170 scheduled to operate US Airways Flight 3408 to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport veered off runway 19L while conducting a high-speed taxi for maintenance purposes. Neither of the two maintenance crew on board were injured. No passengers were on board at the time of the incident.[56][57]

Wildlife strikes[edit]

In 2009, the airport was reported as having the highest number of wildlife strikes of any airport in the US, based on take-offs and landings (57 per 100,000).[58] FAA records showed 146 strikes in 2008, up from 37 in 2000.[59]

The Kansas City Aviation Department issued a press release on October 15, 2009, outlining its Wildlife Hazard Management Plan created in 1998 to reduce wildlife strikes, including removal of 60 acres (24 ha) of trees, zero tolerance for Canada geese, ensuring grain crops are not grown with 2,000 feet (610 m) of the runways, and harassing wildlife to keep it clear of the airport.[60] Furthermore, in 2007, the airport elected to enact a policy of 100% submitting wildlife strike reports to the FAA/USDA National Strike Database. When birds are involved in a strike, whether reported by an aircraft owner or operator, or the bird was found on the runway, feathers or DNA samples are recovered and sent to the Smithsonian Institution for positive identification. This documentation is conducted regardless of whether the strike occurred on or off the airfield.

In the reporting period of January 1990 to September 2008, none of the encounters resulted in injury to people and all of the airplanes landed safely. The report listed the most serious incidents.[61]

  • February 25, 1999 – A Learjet 35 approaching Downtown Kansas City Airport struck a flock of snow geese over MCI. One hit the copilot's window, and one was ingested into an engine, shutting it down. It landed safely.
  • March 4, 1999 – A DC-9 landing at the airport struck a flock of snow geese, ingesting geese in both engines and shutting one down. The airplane landed safely.
  • April 28, 2000 – A Boeing 727 on take-off struck a Canada goose, destroying an engine. It returned safely.
  • June 10, 2005 – A DC-9 on takeoff struck an American kestrel, stalling an engine. It returned safely.
  • March 31, 2006 – A Boeing 737 struck a medium to large bird and damaged an engine on take-off. It returned safely.
  • November 14, 2009 – Frontier Airlines Flight 820, an Airbus A319, to Denver, struck a flock of Canada geese shortly after take-off, resulting in loss of power to an engine. The airplane made a safe return to MCI.[62]


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External links[edit]