Agreement Reached to Expand Capacity at O'Hare and Foster Economic Growth Nationwide

With this agreement, work can begin on an additional south runway, as well as other airfield improvements needed to deal with increasing traffic at the airport.

CHICAGO – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, executives from United Airlines and American Airlines and U.S. Senators Richard Durbin and Mark Kirk announced today a $1.17 billion agreement that will allow the O’Hare Modernization Program to move forward, add runway capacity, and prevent flight delays from growing to unacceptable levels. With this agreement between the City of Chicago and American and United Airlines in place, work can begin on an additional south runway, as well as other airfield improvements needed to deal with increasing traffic at the airport.

With 64 million yearly passengers connecting to 130 domestic airports, the O'Hare Modernization Program is a project of national economic significance that will help ensure America can win the future by moving people and goods more quickly and efficiently to destinations across the country.

The O’Hare Modernization Program, managed by the Chicago Department of Aviation, is one of the largest construction projects in the country at one of the world’s busiest airports. The first phase of the program, which is still under construction, includes two new runways, a runway extension, and a new air traffic control tower. When the program is complete, O’Hare will have eight modern runways, reducing flight delays and improving efficiency for travelers throughout the country.

“This is a landmark achievement that will benefit air travelers throughout the entire nation,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “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.”

“O'Hare International Airport is the economic engine that drives the economy of our city, our region and our state and connects Chicago to the world. Unless we continue to modernize its infrastructure and operations, we will lose our competitive edge in the global economy,” said Mayor Daley. “That’s why I am so pleased that the City has reached agreement with American and United Airlines on a way to proceed immediately with the completion phase of the O’Hare Modernization Program (OMP). The OMP keeps businesses thriving, residents working and our economy growing. I would like to thank United States Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Senator Richard Durbin, Senator Mark Kirk, and our airline partners for their hard work and cooperation in coming to this agreement."

“I want to thank Mayor Daley for working with us to reach an agreement that helps fulfill our shared vision for a world-class airport for our hometown, while recognizing the economic realities we all face,” said Jeff Smisek, president and CEO of United Airlines. “I also want to thank Secretary LaHood and his team who worked tirelessly with the airlines and the Mayor’s team to bring us together. We are grateful for the involvement of Senators Durbin and Kirk and for the federal support that makes this project possible. Finally, I also want to thank the many civic leaders of Chicago, especially Lester Crown, who have been dedicated to ensuring fiscally responsible development at O’Hare.”

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