In a move to spur progress at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), the mayor’s office is working to negotiate an $8.5 billion expansion package, paid for by airline fees. The largest growth project in airport history would open more gates through the construction of new concourses, with the goal of reducing traffic issues and attracting more international flights.
Air traffic issues could be a thing of the past if Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel can strike a deal with the major air carriers of Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD). The Chicago Tribune reports negotiations on an $8.5 billion expansion package are coming to the final stages.
Under the plan put forward by the city’s chief executive office, the construction would be the most ambitious growth project in airport history. Terminal 2 – the Y-shaped building that houses Concourses E and F – would be destroyed in favor of a “Global Terminal” which would primarily serve widebody aircraft bound for international destinations. Remodeling would focus on Terminals 1, 3 and 5, while satellite concourses would be constructed and connected to the “Global Terminal” by underground tunnels.
There are two primary goals for the renovation project. The plan could allow for an easier flow of air traffic, reducing the amount of time flyers spend on the ground or delayed. Meanwhile, opening a new terminal could attract airlines flying larger aircraft to increase flights to ORD. In a study done by the Chicago Department of Aviation, O’Hare lagged behind Miami, New York and San Francisco for international passengers.
“There comes a time where you just can’t live in your grandmother’s terminal anymore, and truthfully, we’re living in our grandmother’s terminal,” Chicago aviation commissioner Ginger Evans told the Chicago Tribune. “Our competitors are out there investing, adding capacity, and we have got to do the same.”
If the proposed plan is successful, the mayor’s office proposes that the $8.5 billion would be paid for with airline fees paid to the airport, which the Aviation Department would borrow against. While the current plan would not have an impact on taxpayers in the city, it is unknown if those airline fees would be passed down to flyers transiting through ORD.