Duckworth, Durbin want sit-down with city and airlines to expedite terminal project

Illinois’ two senators are seeking a meeting with United and American airlines to smooth turbulence over Chicago’s massive terminal project at O’Hare International Airport.

The city plans to build a global terminal replacing Terminal 2 along with two new concourses.

The carriers say they support improvements but are raising red flags about delays and cost overruns.

The project would boost gate capacity by 25% and completion “is essential not only for Chicago, but for Illinois, the region, and for the national aviation system,” Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth told airline CEOs in a Friday letter.

The Federal Aviation Administration estimates flights at O’Hare to spike from 32.6 million in 2022 to 71.9 million in 2050, the senators noted.

“We look forward to meeting with all parties to discuss ( the Terminal Area Plan), and to ensure that (O’Hare) not only preserves its place as a world-class airport for decades to come, but that it has the capacity it needs to do so.”

They also acknowledged funding issues and indicated federal grants might help offset some expenses.

United and American have warned construction could surpass budget estimates by up to $2 billion.

With the project in the early stages, “there is still ample room for design modifications to cut costs consistent with the parameters agreed to by the parties in 2018 TAP agreement,” Durbin and Duckworth wrote.

Mayor Brandon Johnson inherited the project that originated during former Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s administration and continued through former Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s tenure.

At a December event, Chicago Department of Aviation commission Jamie Rhee said regarding TAP that “substantive conversations continue with our (airline) partners focused on phasing, construction and aircraft operations and movements.

“I think one thing that we can all agree upon is that our airport needs to be modernized.“

United and American commented previously that “we remain committed to working together and are optimistic that we will deliver a modernized airport that enhances the customer experience while ensuring O’Hare is well-positioned for the future and cost competitive for the airlines and our customers.”

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