Chicago Considers Privatizing Midway Airport

Mayor Richard Daley's administration is considering whether to privatize Midway International Airport, a city official said.

Dana Levenson, the city's chief financial officer, said the move is a possibility as the city looks for ways to raise cash without increasing taxes.

"This is thinking outside of the box," Levenson told the Chicago Tribune. "Does it end up in a transaction? We don't know. Yet, we have to be considering any and all possibilities."

Levenson said either all or part of Midway could eventually be leased to a private operator. It could take years to complete a transaction to privatize the airport, and standards for a private operator and assessing the deal's value would take time, he said.

A proposal in the Legislature would make such a deal possible by maintaining Midway's property tax-exempt status, said bill sponsor Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park. The Senate passed bill passed Thursday, it still needs House approval.

The bill also would give property tax-exempt status to five parking garages and three city waste sorting and transfer stations.

Yet some said privatization was unlikely.

"As you go to money-crunching in government, you have to look at everything," said Rep. Robert Molaro, D-Chicago. "So I don't mind (the city's study of the issue). I just don't see how they can do it."

Stewart International Airport, about 55 miles north of New York City, was the nation's first privatized commercial airport. National Express Group, a U.S. subsidiary of a British transportation company, operates the airport under a 99-year lease agreement with the New York State Department of Transportation. New York got $35 million in the deal.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

News stories provided by third parties are not edited by "Site Publication" staff. For suggestions and comments, please click the Contact link at the bottom of this page.