The Chicago Tribune reports that United States Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) has offered his support to Chicago city officials in their dispute with United and American Airlines over O’Hare International Airports’s planned expansion .
According to the Tribune, the dispute revolves around how Chicago officials plan to finance the remaining phases of the multi-billion dollar expansion as the city looks to update the aging airport known for its congestion and delays.
Senator Kirk has offered to bring together government officials and Illinois’ other Senator Dick Durbin (D.-Ill.) as well as airline executives in the hopes of coming to some sort of agreement on the expansion and the financing of the project. But with city officials set on expansion and airline executives steadfastly refusing to help pay for such expansion, negotiations will certainly be complicated.
The airlines are concerned that the remaining expansion is unnecessary considering the uncertain future of air travel demand in the United States as it crawls out of the recent economic downturn. United and American Airlines in particular are concerned that the plan is too ambitious and that the large costs will ultimately be passed onto the airlines. According to the Tribune, both airlines are threatening legal action if the expansion goes forth.
The world’s third busiest airport is United’s largest hub and also serves as a hub for American. O’Hare opened its first new runway in 37 years just over a year ago as apart of the current expansion efforts which were expected to be completed by 2014 in preparation for a hopeful olympic bid which ultimately failed.