O'Hare $8.5 Billion Expansion Gets Go-ahead

March 28, 2018

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The USD$8.5 billion upgrade and expansion of Chicago’s O’Hare Airport has been cleared for takeoff after the City Council approved the plan.

City approval comes after the airport’s two major airline tenants, American and United, agreed to support the city’s plan after a disagreement over gate assignments was overcome earlier this month.

City of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the agreement will create “tens of thousands of jobs” across the city and inject billions of dollars into its economy and would position O’Hare “as the gold standard for airports around the world.”

“Even by the sky-high standards of a city famous for making no little plans, the O’Hare expansion is a big deal for Chicago’s future,” he said.

The speed bump in approving the city’s plans came when American Airlines opposed clauses in the airport lease that it said would give United five out of eight new common use gates. American plus United and the city found a solution earlier this month, with American’s chief executive Doug Parker saying at the time it was “strongly supportive” of the agreement.

The transformation plan, due to be finished by 2026, includes a complete redevelopment of the airport’s terminals. Terminal 5, the current international terminal will be upgraded and expanded, Terminals 1 & 3 renovated and Terminal 2 redeveloped to include a new international arrivals facility to be called the O’Hare Global Terminal.

The upgrade will expand O’Hare’s overall terminal area by more than 60 percent, from 5.5 to 8.9 million square feet, and increase gate frontage by 25 percent.

O’Hare is expected to serve nearly 100 million passengers by 2026, up from nearly 80 million today.