Many airlines have serviced the Kansas City international airport, commonly known as KCI. Although on luggage tags it will be shown as MCI, which stands for Mid Continent International Airport. That was the original airport across the Missouri river from downtown Kansas City Missouri, which opened in 1929. In 1972 the new Kansas City International airport opened about 20 miles northwest of downtown, and the old Mid Continent airport became a private and business aviation hub. For some reason, the MCI on luggage tags was not changed.
TWA, Trans World Airlines was considered the hometown airline. It’s roots went back to 1939 when Western Air Express and Transcontinental Air Transport merged to form Transcontinental and Western Air. Some years later the name was changed to Trans World Airlines, which eventually reached south Asia. TWA became famous for it’s long association with pioneer aviator Howard Hughes. It had an overhaul base at the old Mid Continent, then built a huge new overhaul facility at the new airport, big enough to service the gigantic Boeing 747. The airline had a rocky history and was heavily unionized. TWA made a lot of promises to city officials, including nonstop service to Europe, and the company had a major role in designing the new airport as it’s future hub.
The big dream never happened, as the airline reached only 40 domestic flights a day at it’s peak in KCI, then less than ten years after KCI had opened, TWA moved most of it’s operations to Lambert Field in St.Louis. TWA gradually cut back service to KCI though the overhaul base remained, then it too gradually cut back throughout the nineties. A small TWA International hub remained at New York Kennedy, which would gradually wither away as the airline was slow to adapt to the post deregulation environment. High unionized operating cost and older equipment were no match for new competitors over the entire TWA route network, and the airline was finally bought by American Airlines in about 2000. In 2010 American decided to close the big KCI overhaul base, which once employed thousands.
The original Braniff Airways was an early Kansas City airline which disappeared in 1982. A new Braniff appeared in 1989 and disappeared for good in 1992. Continental airlines arrived in Kansas City in the 1940’s . Since then a multitude of names came and went.