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Chicago Airports on the Skids

By Hunter Clauss in News on Jan 23, 2009 10:03PM


Traffic at O’Hare crawls to its lowest since 1994, which isn’t great news considering the City of Chicago is spending about $15 billion to modernize the airport by 2014. The FAA released data this week showing incoming and outgoing flights were down last year to 881,566 at O’Hare and 266,341 at Midway, the worst for that airport since 1997.

So what does this mean for plans to expand O’Hare by creating new runways? Nothing, apparently. “The aviation industry is cyclical and continues to bounce back,” said Rosemarie Andolino, Executive Director the O'Hare Modernization Program, told the Sun-Times.

It’s unclear when the industry will bounce back considering the bleak fourth quarter reports. It’s also unclear if the cash-strapped airlines will help finance the second phase of the O’Hare expansion, which could result in some cuts to the project.

But this all begs the question, “Why would a city facing economic turmoil spend so much time and money creating runways for an airport that arguably doesn’t even need them?” Looks like we’ll find out on Oct. 2.

Photo by AP.