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F1 Tommy Mar 3, 2011 1:01 PM


Originally Posted by spyguy (Post 5158414)

O’Hare deal would open gates for Virgin America
By Julie Johnsson

The city of Chicago has struck a deal with Delta Air Lines that could pave the way for upstart Virgin America to begin service at O’Hare International Airport.

A proposed ordinance introduced by Mayor Daley in city council Wednesday would give the city control over the L concourse gates in Terminal 3. The gates have been largely vacant since Nov. 17, 2009, when Delta shifted its operations at O’Hare to merger partner Northwest Airline’s base in Terminal 2.

This is not as big a deal as they make it out to be. They will only get a couple of gates and add a few flights. By the way, AA/Eagle are adding flights and so is United/UA express. O'hare will have the most passenger traffic it has had in many years starting in April.

Kngkyle Mar 4, 2011 8:02 AM

Virgin starts with 3 SFO-ORD flights so United responds by adding 5 more to the 11 daily flights they already have. It's fun to watch this stuff. Fares are gonna plummet on that route.

ametz Mar 4, 2011 9:09 PM

:previous: Dammit.....I just spent a small fortune for a ticket from O'Hare to San Fran.

OrdoSeclorum Mar 14, 2011 3:14 PM

Sounds Promising?

Airlines and City agree to runway completion: Crains.

ardecila Mar 15, 2011 12:47 AM

Looks like they'll build 10R-28L at the far south end. That necessarily includes the relocation of Irving Park Road and the UP rail line, which essentially means that the airfield will grow to its ultimate size, even if they don't add more runways inside.

They've already extended 10L-28R, and I believe they will build the remaining (middle) half of 10C-28C, since it's already started. The south airfield will be built-out as per the OMP plan; no losses there.

What we don't get is 9C-27C, or the extension of 9R-27L.

All in all, that's still two more runways than O'Hare currently has. Plus, the city doesn't lose either of the two diagonal runways that were slated for closure.


Daley Compromise

OMP Master Plan

OMP Master Plan

bnk Mar 15, 2011 2:03 AM

Compromise allows Chicago O'Hare expansion to proceed \
By Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY

Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY

A deal has been reached that gives Chicago the green light for additional expansion at O'Hare International Airport, The Associated Press reports.

That deal comes as city and federal officials reached a deal today with American and United, airlines that combine for more than 80% of O'Hare's traffic.

The Chicago Tribune calls the effort a "breakthrough agreement" that Mayor Richard Daley "desperately sought to keep alive the expansion of O'Hare International Airport."

Bloomberg News says "the agreement will allow work to begin on a new runway and other airfield improvements, preventing an escalation of flight delays at O'Hare, according to a statement today by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, the airlines and the U.S. Transportation Department. It is the largest airfield modernization program in the U.S., federal officials said."

The deal ends an impasse that boiled over in January,...


The deal with the airlines allows the city to push ahead on $1.17 billion in related projects, while deferring the terms and timing of the remaining $2.23 billion in projects that had been part of this phase of expansion. The deal stipulates that the parties must negotiate details of the deferred portion no later than March 2013.

The Wall Street Journal provides specifics, writing:


The first phase of the O'Hare expansion, parts of which remain under construction, includes two new runways, a runway extension and a new air-traffic-control tower. The second phase, which will get started with funding agreed Monday, will allow the city to begin work on an additional south runway as well as other airfield improvements.

"eight modern runways" once the latest phase is complete, the Journal adds.


The Tribune writes that when "asked what altered the airlines' hardline position that more O'Hare runways would not be needed for many years," Jeff Smisek nodded toward DOT Secretary Ray LaHood.

He "helped change my mind," Smisek said, according to the Tribune.

Tipping his hat to O'Hare's role within the national aviation system, LaHood says in a statement that "making improvements to O'Hare will not only reduce flight delays and improve service for air passengers across America, it will ensure one of our busiest airports continues to thrive economically in the future."

Beta_Magellan Mar 15, 2011 2:24 AM

Is western access still possible?

ametz Mar 15, 2011 2:24 AM

It's about time clouted something out of D.C.

ardecila Mar 15, 2011 3:54 AM


Originally Posted by Beta_Magellan (Post 5200964)
Is western access still possible?

Sure. Nothing is preventing the future construction of western access, either as a transportation center or a full-fledged air terminal. The airlines just won't pay for it - nor will they agree to increased ticket taxes to fund it.

The Elgin-O'Hare-West Bypass project is run by IDOT, and the state/federal gov't will fund it, probably in conjunction with tolls. It's not financially connected to the city's O'Hare project, and it won't connect into the airport unless the city can find its own money for the western terminal.

There is a transit component to this expressway (BRT lanes and median platforms) but it's pretty speculative at this point, and it won't be built in the first phase. (Pace will most likely provide interim bus service on the corridor to build ridership).

Beta_Magellan Mar 15, 2011 4:09 AM

Hmm…I’d thought ensuring western access was dependent on building a connection when the runways were being moved—now that it’s not happening will western access simply be much more expensive to get done?

ardecila Mar 15, 2011 4:27 AM

Oh, I see... Runway 14R-32L (the diagonal one) would still need to be relocated if you wanted to reconfigure the airport to resemble Atlanta or Orlando.

That doesn't rule out a western terminal, though. (I think) the only sticking point is for transfers from the east side to the west side, since baggage tractors and shuttle buses can't cross an active runway. You'd need some sort of underground system for baggage, one for passengers, and then at least one or two road underpasses for other vehicles.

SamInTheLoop Mar 15, 2011 1:41 PM


Originally Posted by Kngkyle (Post 5187016)
Virgin starts with 3 SFO-ORD flights so United responds by adding 5 more to the 11 daily flights they already have. It's fun to watch this stuff. Fares are gonna plummet on that route.

This tells you a lot of what people need to realize about the legacy carriers claims of how flight demand didn't warrant continued expansion of O'Hare. Actually, demand for seats is rebounding (I don't have at my fingers, but I'm sure up-to-date year-over-year passenger numbers would confirm). However, because of the legacies' struggling business models, the planes are still parked in the California and Arizona deserts. It's kind of a ridiculous circular argument by the legacies - flight traffice increases are being stymied by their business decision to keep the capacity parked in the desert - not by stagnant growth in demand for seats from the travelling public, so they argue there's no need for further expansion. Again, as evidenced by the epic, long struggle Virgin America had to even enter the airport and start off with a very modest presence with service to two cities, United and American have far too large an impact on overall capacity and competition-supression at O'Hare.

Also, on this week's agreement: This is just redefining what this next phase of O'Hare expansion understanding is that all parties go back to the table in 2013 to decide what comes next at that point. Hopefully by then, even the legacies' influence in keeping capacity and competition down will be weakened, and along with a healthy economy, it will be clear to all that all of OMP must be finished, including the Western Terminal...

ChiPsy Mar 15, 2011 2:14 PM

Thanks, Ardecilia, for posting those maps! I've been searching the newspapers (Tribune, Sun-Times, Crains, and even the STL Post-Dispatch) for a map in their stories, and they've posted none -- even though it would seem the most obvious way to illustrate the expansion/compromise. Maybe maps have been in the print editions, but otherwise this is the first time I've finally been able to visualize exactly what happened yesterday.

Looking at these pix, it seems like Mayor Daley was able to accomplish ~3/4's of what he aspired for 10 years ago when he announced the audacious modernization plan. Does that sound about right?

Kngkyle Mar 15, 2011 2:21 PM

I think the key to the Western Terminal is to convince United or American to move into it. More likely to be United but either way it would be a tough sell. T1 isn't exactly in bad shape and United doesn't really need more gates. American has been downsizing ORD quite a bit and isn't in as good of financial shape as United. And building a massive new terminal means there will be a ton of unused gates in the old terminals, which United and American won't want to see go into the hands of LCCs. Perhaps demolishing and rebuilding T2 at a later date (which needs to be done regardless) is one way to get them on board.

It would certainly be nice though if the western terminal was a state of the art terminal for the new worlds largest airline - United. Akin to the McNamara terminal in Detroit but larger. Maybe sometime in the next decade or two.

SamInTheLoop Mar 15, 2011 2:23 PM

I guess I asked a very timely question above:

Airports Council International this morning apparently released estimates of 2010 passenger traffic at airports around the globe. O'Hare increased 3.3% over 2009......not fantastic for sure, but at least moving in the right direction, and much better than Atlanta and Heathrow....

Ch.G, Ch.G Mar 15, 2011 3:14 PM

^ What's the situation like for Atlanta and Heathrow?

Vlajos Mar 15, 2011 5:43 PM

Atlanta grew 1.4% and Heathrow declined about the same.

Jenner Mar 16, 2011 4:11 AM

There is still no reason to build the western terminal, despite what we may want. I don't have the numbers handy, but as I recall, the frontage space that the western terminal provides would be less than what UA and Star Alliance are taking right now, but more space than AA. Even if UA or AA moved there, you open up a ton of gates for competition. Given that UA and AA are basically paying more fees for runway construction, I'm not sure why they would want more competition at ORD.

I am rather surprised that they didn't extend 9R-27L. That should not have impacted any of the maintenance areas, and would allow a longer runway for takeoff and landing of large aircraft. In this scenario, the only other part to be built would be the 9C-27C runway, as well as the new airline maintenance areas.

Beta_Magellan Mar 16, 2011 6:36 AM

A western terminal is definitely more of an ground-transport accessibility issue than anything else—Elgin-O’Hare and its transit component both assume some sort of connection there, and most of the (admittedly very conceptual) Illinois HSR airport links I’ve seen favored western over eastern access.

denizen467 Mar 17, 2011 9:05 AM


Originally Posted by Kngkyle (Post 5201508)
Perhaps demolishing and rebuilding T2 at a later date (which needs to be done regardless) is one way to get them on board.

This (or the same thing regarding T3) is the cleverest argument, and strategy, for a western terminal that I've heard. There would be at least a couple-year span before aggregate gate count were increased, and many more years if there weren't immediate funding for it, so UA/AA might be placated by this. Would there be counter-arguments that T2 can be renovated (while in use) for another half-century? Or is it truly too narrow, too long, too devoid of amenities?

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