Chicago Seeks OK to Lease Midway to Private Contractor

The city has filed for permission to lease its Midway Airport to a private contractor, a move Chicago officials say could increase revenue without raising taxes.

Officials filed a preliminary application with the Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday under a pilot program that will let up to five U.S. airports be leased or sold, officials said. The program allows for only one large commercial hub.

"By filing our preliminary application, it's a placeholder for that hub spot," said Dana Levenson, the city's chief financial officer.

If the city has millions of dollars in federal grants, including funds used for a $927 million (euro731.5 million) reconstruction project, Levenson said.

FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said the agency would review the application "as quickly as possible."

The city also recently privatized its Chicago Skyway toll road. Last year, it leased the 7.8-mile (12.5-kilometer) highway to an Australian-Spanish consortium for 99 years in exchange for $1.83 billion (euro1.44 billion).

New York state leased its much smaller Stewart Airport in New Windsor, 55 miles north of New York City, in 2000 for $35 million (euro27.6 million) plus a percentage of future income. London-based National Express Group PLC now operates that airport.

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