CHICAGO_United Airlines is moving its global headquarters from its longtime base near O'Hare International Airport to a building downtown, the company announced Saturday. The nation's second-largest carrier, a unit of UAL Corp., has been shopping for a site since spring, when it said it was looking to consolidate its facilities.
The search took it to Denver and San Francisco - two United airport hubs - but most observers expected the carrier that has long billed itself locally as "Chicago's hometown airline" to stay in the area.
"Obviously, Chicago always had the competitive advantage in being the hometown airline," United CEO Glenn Tilton said. "It's a great city and we have a rich history here."
About 350 United employees will be part of the move from Elk Grove Village, 20 miles northwest of downtown. United said Saturday that it expects to move in early 2007.
It also will consolidate several suburban facilities at its campus at Elk Grove Village, a move the company said would save money without a loss of jobs.
City and state officials had offered United incentives during its headquarters search.
United will get $5.25 million in tax increment financing from the city and $1.35 million in grants from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for infrastructure improvements and job training, the company said at a news conference announcing the move.
Both the city and state also will propose legislation to limit the jet fuel tax for the next five years, which could potentially save millions of dollars for carriers at O'Hare.
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The city's offer includes $4.4 million in tax-increment financing if the airline relocates downtown, according to a source familiar with details of the plan.
United Airlines CEO Glenn Tilton said that limits on open access to foreign markets and cross-border investment opportunities need to be dropped.
The incentives package also includes $5.3 million of city tax increment financing and $1.4 million of state infrastructure and employee-training grants.