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American Airlines

What Made American Agree to O’Hare Expansion At the 11th Hour

What Made American Agree to O’Hare Expansion At the 11th Hour
Joe Cortez

American Airlines was the final holdout to an expansion plan put forward by Mayor Rahm Emmanuel for Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. After reportedly agreeing to build three general-use gates in Terminal L, American will give their approval to the project on the understanding that they get the same treatment as in-town rival United Airlines.

After holding out on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s plan for an $8.5 billion reconstruction of Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), American Airlines will give their support to the project before the city is staged to approve it. Crain’s Chicago Business reports the Dallas-based carrier is the last airline to get on board with the rebuilding project.

According to the report, American will agree to add three new gates to Concourse L at Terminal 3. Originally, American wanted to build 5 new gates for their dedicated use, similar to what hometown carrier United would receive. Instead, the newly constructed Concourse L gates will reportedly be general use.

In a compromise, American is promised they will receive the same number of dedicated gates as United through 2021. Afterwards, dedicated gates will be given based on the number of flights through ORD. If an airline operates less flights, they will receive less gate space.

Before the agreement was settled by American and the City of Chicago, the Dallas-based carrier claimed the deal was more favorable to United, despite the fact both use ORD as a hub. United joined American in opposing the deal at first, concerned over the high costs of producing the overhaul. Crain’s reports United decided to ultimately back the deal instead of having the Chicago City Council decide the fate of their airport lease terms.

Both the City of Chicago and American are declaring victory in the situation. Emmanuel called the reconstruction plan a “watershed moment for Chicago” and a job creating project in a statement to Crain’s. Through a spokesperson, American told the business newspaper the deal works because the three gates will be surrounded by American’s gates and will primarily serve the airline’s smaller aircraft.

UPDATE: In an email to FlyerTalk, a United Airlines spokesperson noted the airline will receive five gates in response to the five American Airlines received from the City of Chicago in 2016. Additionally, while the three expedited gates will be surrounded by American gates, they will be designated as “common use” gates – meaning any airline may use them. The Mayor’s office notes: “The city is committed to working with all carriers to ensure the location of common use gates supports the operations of all carries operating at O’Hare.”

[Photo: Shutterstock]


View Comments (3)


  1. rylan

    March 16, 2018 at 3:41 am

    Anyway, its Chicago… rest assured the project cost will be significantly higher than 8.5B and take longer. The construction unions will be sure of that. And the organized crime groups.

  2. Wingtipflyer1

    March 16, 2018 at 5:19 pm

    What Made American Agree to O’Hare Expansion At the 11th Hour?

    Rahm sent Doug a dead fish.

  3. flyerCO

    March 20, 2018 at 4:08 am

    @rylan – there’s a difference between construction unions and organized crime?

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