If you’re sick and tired of delayed and cancelled flights at O’Hare, here’s a bit of good news for you: an $8.5 million deal is almost finalized to be largest makeover in the airport’s 73 year history.
The new plan would prioritize and expand the number of international flights, which in turn would create more space for domestic routes as well.
“There comes a time where you just can’t live in your grandmother’s terminal anymore, and truthfully, we’re living in our grandmother’s terminal,” Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans told the Chicago Tribune. “You snooze, you lose in this business. Our competitors are out there investing, adding capacity, and we have got to do the same.”
There are currently 185 gates at O’Hare and this project would increase that number to 220. Construction is expected to be completed in the year 2026.
“When you look at the international numbers, you say, ‘Wait a minute. We have half the international passengers that Miami and LAX do? We have a third the number of JFK?’ ” Evans said. “We have more industry, more global trade, more imports from China than LA and Miami, why should Chicago be half? We’re at 10 or 11 million international passengers and they’re at 21 or 22 million.
This overhaul wouldn’t just benefit Chicago, but the whole country, says Kevin M. Burke, CEO of the Airports Council International North America.
“People know from traveling around the country, if Chicago is clogged, the rest of the country gets clogged. If they don’t have enough gates for aircraft, the rest of the country suffers for it,” said Burke. “So, when I see a project like this going off at O’Hare, it is good for the entire U.S. airport system.”
The Tribune writes that Terminal 2 would be torn down completely to make way for a new “Global Terminal.” Terminals 1, 3, and 5 would be renovated.
In addition to the new gates, multiple concourses would be constructed as well as underground pedestrian tunnels.
For now, this deal is still speculation but is expected to be approved my Mayor Rahm Emanuel at a City Council meeting on Wednesday.