Renewed worries on O’Hare’s expansion following American-US merger

Skift Take

A somewhat veiled threat from senators on tougher regulatory road ahead if earlier agreements not honored on O’Hare’s expansion and keeping the jobs.

— Rafat Ali

Just hours after meeting with Mayor Rahm Emanuel today, Illinois’ two U.S. senators Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk issued an unusual letter to the new owners of American Airlines, strongly urging the carrier to proceed with the expansion of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport as it faces federal “regulatory scrutiny.”

Completion of the O’Hare Modernization Project, including another new runway, depends on an agreement between American and O’Hare’s biggest user, United Continental Holdings Corp.’s United Airlines. The city is about to sit down again with the two major carriers under an agreement reached two years ago to split the second part of the project in half, which allowed the first half to proceed but left the final part up to further negotiations.

From the letter:

The proposed merger between American Airlines and US Airways will significantly alter the airline industry in the United States and face regulatory scrutiny before being approved. We believe a strong presence in Illinois is important to the future of any American Airlines company emerging from bankruptcy and stand ready to work with you to ensure American Airlines can and will still provide modern, safe, and efficient air travel in Illinois.

The full letter from the senators, embedded below:

Download (PDF, 492KB)

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