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Midway Airport Sets Record For Passengers In 2012

By Chuck Sudo in News on Feb 4, 2013 2:45PM

Photo credit: Peter Behr
Here’s some incentive to companies looking to bid on running Midway Airport. The World’s Busiest Square Mile had its best year ever—a record 9.67 million passengers boarded flights at the Southwest side airport in 2012.

The reason for the number was simple: more flights out of Midway. Southwest Airlines, which uses Midway as its Chicago hub, added more nonstop flights and is expected to fly to Jamaica and the Dominican Republic this year. Tran and Volaris are also adding flights out of Midway.

The most important aspect of Midway’s growth has been its strength in a still-sluggish economy. Passenger boardings rose 3.35 percent last year after a 7.1 percent increase in 2011. That latter number is more than triple the national growth average of 2.3 percent. Of course, all these nice numbers give Mayor Rahm Emanuel something to crow about and a better hand as the city begins taking bids on privatizing Midway.

The Federal Aviation Administration last month approved the city’s request to seek bidders to run Midway and the Emanuel administration began the bidding process by posting a “request for qualifications” laying ground rules for the potential bidders that includes a “Travelers’ Bill of Rights,” sharing profits from the airport with the city and investing in infrastructure projects for Midway. Emanuel is walking a fine line here, with the bitter taste of previous city privatization deals like the Skyway and especially the parking meter deal still in the mouths of residents.

Sen. Dick Durbin is also hesitant to a privatization deal and said last week the federal government should be repaid the $378 million it poured into rebuilding Midway if it is privatized.