Amidst increasing tension between O’Hare International Airport’s largest airlines, American and United, and the city of Chicago over its proposed expansion plans at the city’s busiest airport, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley met with executives from both airlines today in Washington the Chicago Tribune reports.
While no significant process was made during today’s talks, both sides agreed to keep talking while admitting that there was still a great deal of difference standing between them.
At the center of the controversy is Chicago’s ambitious multi-billion dollar expansion plan to improve the airport by building a new runway and terminal building and modifying current runways. American and United have expressed concern that the plan is too large in scope and that the enormous cost will be passed on to the airport’s two largest carriers.
Tensions reached a boiling point on January 18th when American and United elected to sue the city in order to prevent an upcoming bond sale that would help finance the $15 billion project. United and American are suing to block the sale, arguing that the debt will be handed down to the airports.
O’Hare has notoriously been one of the most congested airports in the country, often causing major nationwide disruptions when the airport experiences delays and cancellations. The expansion project is intended to alleviate that congestions and make the airport less susceptible to weather delays that plagues the world’s third busiest airport but the airlines wonder if such benefit is worth $15 billion.
With only three months remaining in Daley’s tenure as mayor, resolving the dispute is one of his top priorities as the project’s success or failure will be strongly tied to his legacy.