Chicago Midway International Airport
|Chicago Midway International Airport|
|Aerial view of Chicago Midway International Airport, a.k.a. the "world's busiest square mile".|
|IATA: MDW – ICAO: KMDW – FAA LID: MDW|
|Owner||City of Chicago|
|Operator||Chicago Airport System|
|Serves||Chicago, Illinois, US|
|Focus city for||Southwest Airlines|
|Elevation AMSL||620 ft / 189 m|
|FAA airport diagram|
|Source: FAA and airport website|
Chicago Midway International Airport (IATA: MDW, ICAO: KMDW, FAA LID: MDW), is an airport in Chicago, Illinois, United States, located on the city's southwest side, eight miles (13 km) from Chicago's Loop.
Dominated by low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines, Midway is the Dallas-based carrier's largest focus city as of 2011. Both the Stevenson Expressway and Chicago Transit Authority's Orange Line provide passengers access to downtown Chicago. Midway Airport is the second largest passenger airport in the Chicago metropolitan area, as well as the state of Illinois, after Chicago O'Hare International Airport.
Early history (1923–1962) 
Originally named Chicago Air Park, Midway Airport was built on a 320-acre (1.3 km2) plot in 1923 with one cinder runway that primarily served airmail services. In 1926 the city leased the airport for commercial purposes. The airport was designated as Chicago Municipal Airport on December 12, 1927. By 1928 the airport had twelve hangars and four runways, lit for night operations.
In 1931 a new passenger terminal opened at 62nd St; the following year the airport claimed to be the "World's Busiest" with over 100,846 passengers on 60,947 flights. The March 1939 OAG shows 47 weekday departures: 13 on United, 13 American, 9 TWA, 4 Northwest and two each on Eastern, Braniff, Pennsylvania Central and C&S. New York's airport (Newark, then LaGuardia by the end of 1939) was then the busiest airline airport in the United States, but Midway passed LaGuardia around 1948 and retained the title until O'Hare claimed it in 1961.
More construction was funded in part by $1 million from the Works Progress Administration; the airport expanded to fill the square mile in 1938–41 after a court ordered the Chicago and Western Indiana Railroad to reroute tracks that had crossed the square along the north edge of the older field.
In July 1949 the airport was renamed after the Battle of Midway. That year Midway saw 3.2 million passengers; passengers peaked at 10 million in 1959. The diagram on the January 1951 C&GS instrument approach chart shows four parallel pairs of runways, all 4240 ft or less except for 5730-ft runway 13R and 5230-ft runway 4R. Airport diagram for 1959
The April 1957 OAG shows 414 weekday fixed-wing departures from Midway: 83 American, 83 United, 56 TWA, 40 Capital, 35 North Central, 28 Delta, 27 Eastern, 22 Northwest, 19 Ozark, 11 Braniff, 5 Trans-Canada and 5 Lake Central. Air France, Lufthansa and REAL (of Brazil) had a few flights a week. Midway was running out of room and in any case could not handle the 707 and DC-8 jetliners that appeared in 1959; every Chicago jet flight had to use O'Hare, which had opened to the airlines in 1955. Electras and Viscounts could have continued to fly out of Midway, but O'Hare's capacious new terminal opened in 1962, allowing airlines to consolidate their flights. From July 1962 until the 727 appeared in July 1964 Midway's only scheduled airline was Chicago Helicopter. In August 1966 a total of four fixed-wing arrivals were scheduled, all United.
Post-O'Hare reconstruction (1963–1993) 
By 1967, reconstruction began at the airport, adding three new concourses with 28 gates and three ticket counters, and in 1968 the city invested $10 million in renovation funds. The funds partly supported construction of the Stevenson Expressway, which proved to be a major route for passengers to the airport, and Midway saw the return of major airlines during that year, serving 1,663,074 passengers on jets such as the McDonnell Douglas DC-9, Boeing 727, and Boeing 737 that could use Midway's runways, which the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8 could not.
In 1979 Midway Airlines began operations, the first to do so after the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, and became the flagship carrier at Midway until it ended operations in 1991. Midway Airlines helped revitalize the airport and led the way for other discount carriers, who benefited from Midway's lower costs and close proximity to Chicago's Loop, to prosper. Southwest Airlines, which began operations at Midway in 1985, was one such beneficiary. Three years earlier, in 1982, the city of Chicago purchased Midway Airport from the Chicago Board of Education for $16 million.
The Chicago Transit Authority displaced the original location of the Carlton Midway Inn to open a new CTA terminal at the airport on October 31, 1993, for the newly established Chicago 'L' Orange Line, which connected Midway to Chicago's Loop. The CTA's Orange Line connects Midway to downtown Chicago via elevated train transportation. Midway Airport is the terminus of the line, which traverses the southwest portion of the city before ending in the Loop and cycling back to Midway again. The Orange Line does not run 24 hours a day (unlike the Blue Line, which provides 24-hour service to O'Hare and the Red Line), but does operate extensive hours from about 4:00 am to 1:00 am, running at an average of 8-minute intervals. The train journey from Midway Airport to the Loop takes 25 minutes.
Years of ATA (1994–2008) 
In 1996, after failing to get his Lake Calumet Airport and having received harsh criticism for the idea of turning the airport into an industrial park, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley announced the Midway Airport Terminal Development Program, which was launched the following year. At the time, it was the largest public works project in the state. The Midway Airport parking garage opened in 1999, bringing covered parking to the airport for the first time. The garage is connected to the Midway terminal building for convenient access to ticket counters and baggage claim areas.
Continuing with the expansion project, a pedestrian bridge over Cicero Avenue was constructed in 2000 connecting the new terminal to the new concourses. In 2001, the new 900,000-square-foot (84,000 m2) Midway Airport terminal building opened, offering expanded ticket counters, spacious baggage claim areas, traveler information and a short walking distance to airline gates. A 50,000-square-foot (4,600 m2) food court opened with Chicago-style food and retail options.
In 2002, Midway welcomed the return of direct international service after a 40-year absence with the opening of the new Federal Inspection Service facility in Concourse A.
In June 2004, Mayor Daley and airline officials celebrated the completion of the Terminal Development Program. The expansion project, designed by HNTB resulted in the addition of 14 gates (from 29 to 43), with the airport now providing 43 gates on 3 concourses. A new 6,300-space economy parking garage, including a new bridge and roadway used exclusively for buses shuttling passengers to and from the terminal, opened in December 2005.
Simultaneous to Midway's expansion, ATA Airlines began rapid expansion at Chicago Midway in the early 2000s (decade), and prior to 2004, was the airport's dominant carrier, occupying and operating 14 of the 17 gates in Concourse A. However, after the airline declared bankruptcy in October 2004, scheduled service from Midway significantly decreased.
For over 16 years, Midway had been the main hub for Indianapolis-based ATA, but the airline shut down on June 7, 2008 before the airline filed for bankruptcy in April 2008, immediately discontinuing all flights. On April 3, 2008, ATA Airlines discontinued all operations.
In November, 2008, Porter Airlines, which flies between Midway and Toronto, Canada, was the only international route served from Chicago–Midway after ATA Airlines, which had flights to Mexico, ceased operations in April that year. On December 13, 2010, a second carrier, Volaris, began flights between Guadalajara and Midway.
Years after ATA (2009–) 
On April 20, 2009, a $2.5 billion deal to privatize the airport via a 99-year lease fell through when the consortium could not put together financing. The City is to keep $125 million in the downpayment. The consortium operating under the name of Midway Investment and Development Company LLC consisted of Vancouver Airport Services, Citi Infrastructure Investors and Boston's John Hancock Life Insurance. It was awarded the contract in October 2008 by the City Council which voted 49–0 to approve it. The consortium would have operated the airport and collected airport parking, concession and passenger facility charges. However, Chicago would have continued to provide fire and police services. Chicago privatized the Chicago Skyway in 2007.
Starting in early 2009, a construction project added a new walkway and food court to Concourse A. The project also connected gates A4A and A4B to the main A concourse. Expansions were completed in the spring of 2010.
Today, Southwest Airlines is the largest airline serving Midway with 225 daily flights. Midway is also Southwest's largest focus city. Southwest pilots expressed concern about the control tower closure between the hours of 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. due to 2013 Federal budget sequester as it will impact red-eye flights to the west coast and diversion to other airports.
Chicago Midway Airport is the second largest passenger airport in the state of Illinois after Chicago O'Hare International Airport. In 2005, Chicago Midway International Airport was the 30th busiest airport in the United States in terms of passenger traffic.
Southwest, along with their subsidiary AirTran Airways, is the dominant carrier at Midway, controlling 34 of the airport's 43 gates. Currently, the airlines offer a combined 250 daily departures to 60 nonstop destinations.
|Passenger volume||Change over previous year||Aircraft operations||Cargo tonnage|
|Source: Midway Airport|
All terminals and hangars were on the square periphery. By the late 1970s the shorter north–south and east–west runway pairs had been closed, though some were converted to taxiways. The other four runways remain in use, all strengthened and enhanced, but about the same lengths as always. A short runway (13R/31L) for light aircraft was added in 1989.
Chicago Midway International Airport covers one square mile (640 acre, 2.59 km2) and currently has five runways:
- Runway 13C/31C: 6,522 ft × 150 ft (1,988 m × 46 m), air carrier runway, ILS-equipped.
- Runway 4R/22L: 6,446 ft × 150 ft (1,965 m × 46 m), air carrier runway, ILS-equipped.
- Runway 4L/22R: 5,507 ft × 150 ft (1,679 m × 46 m), general aviation and air taxi.
- Runway 13L/31R: 5,141 ft × 150 ft (1,567 m × 46 m), general aviation and air taxi.
- Runway 13R/31L: 3,859 ft × 60 ft (1,176 m × 18 m), light aircraft only.
Because Midway is surrounded by buildings and other development, the landing thresholds of the runways are displaced to provide a proper obstacle clearance. Both the FAA and the airlines ensure safety by adhering to calculated load limits and various weather minimums. Because of the displaced landing thresholds, the runways have shorter distances available for landings than for takeoffs. 13C/31C, the longest runway, only has an available landing distance of 6,059 feet (1,847 m) in the southeast direction, and 5,826 feet (1,776 m) operating to the northwest. The largest aircraft normally seen at Midway is the Boeing 757. Normally, the commercial planes only take off from and land on runways 4R, 22L, 31C, and 13C. The other runways are used by smaller aircraft. Out of the four large runways, all are used about evenly, with the exception of 13C. 13C is only used occasionally in certain weather conditions.
Terminals, airlines and destinations 
The carrier transporting the most passengers from Chicago Midway Airport is Southwest Airlines. In 2008, a total of 17,340,497 passengers were carried through MDW, a 10.52% decrease from the previous year. Also in 2008, 253,901 aircraft passed through Midway Airport, a 16.66% decrease from 2007.
Midway has 43 aircraft gates on three concourses (A, B, and C)
The three concourses and their gates are:
- Concourse A – 17 gates (A1–A3, A4A–B, A5, A7, A9–12, A14–19)
- Concourse B – 23 gates (B1–3, B5–12, B14–26)
- Concourse C – 3 gates (C1–3)
Note: All international arrivals are handled in Concourse A.
Top destinations 
|1||Atlanta, GA||525,000||AirTran, Delta, Southwest|
|2||Denver, CO||447,000||Frontier, Southwest|
|3||Las Vegas, NV||393,000||Southwest|
|4||Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN||381,000||Delta, Southwest|
|5||Orlando, FL||366,000||AirTran, Southwest|
|7||Kansas City, MO||270,000||Southwest|
|8||St. Louis, MO||270,000||Southwest|
|9||Los Angeles, CA||265,000||Southwest|
|10||Detroit, MI||244,000||Delta, Southwest|
Charter service 
|Lakeshore Express operated by Pentastar Aviation||Pellston, Pontiac (begins June 6, 2013)|
|Public Charters operated by Corporate Flight Management||Manistee|
|Ultimate Air Shuttle||Seasonal: Cincinnati–Lunken|
Previous airline service 
During the 1950s, before the rise of O'Hare, Midway was the world's busiest airport and one of the hubs of the U.S. airline system. United Airlines was headquartered at Midway in the pre-O'Hare days, and American Airlines was originally based at Midway until it moved its headquarters to New York City in the mid-1930s. TWA and Eastern Air Lines and several other airlines had many flights. The terminal was extensively renovated in 1958 and again in 1967, after which several legacy carriers resumed service.
The December 1970 OAG shows 86 weekday arrivals (77 jet) on 13 fixed-wing airlines from 31 airports, but the August 1974 shows 14 arrivals (all jet) on four airlines, and in 1976–79 Midway had only the two or three Delta DC-9s from St Louis. Midway Airlines arrived on October 31, 1979 with DC-9 nonstops to Kansas City, Detroit and Cleveland Lakefront; they expanded greatly in the 1980s. Midway was a focus city for Vanguard Airlines from 1997 to 2000.
Among the other airlines that used to frequent Midway were Access Air, Kiwi International Airlines, Northeast Airlines, US Airways, MetroJet, Ozark Air Lines (2000–2001), and Pan American Airways (1998–2004).
Both American Airlines and United Airlines ended all scheduled service to Midway in September 2006, in favor of concentrating Chicago-area operations at the larger nearby O'Hare International Airport, which is a hub airport for both United and American.
Big Sky Airlines started nonstop service on December 3, 2006, between Springfield, Illinois, and Midway and added daily nonstop flights to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, beginning on March 17. However, citing poor demand, both the Springfield and Eau Claire flights were discontinued on June 9, 2007.
Mesa Airlines, which began nonstop service from MDW in early 2007, discontinued all flights to Decatur and Quincy, Illinois, effective November 9, 2007. The flights, which were operated by Air Midwest, were terminated citing poor passenger demand.
Chicago Midway International Airport was once the largest hub of ATA Airlines and its wholly owned regional airline partner Chicago Express Airlines, which operated as ATA Connection . ATA had operated a hub at Midway since 1992. As recently as 2004, ATA operated over 100 daily flights to over 30 destinations. The airline cut back service from Chicago after declaring bankruptcy in late 2004. On April 3, 2008, the airline again declared bankruptcy and ended all scheduled operations, including service to the four cities it still served at Chicago–Midway.
Significant incidents 
On June 30, 1956, United Airlines Flight 718, a Douglas DC-7, was headed for Midway Airport. Over the Grand Canyon it collided with a TWA Super Constellation, killing all 128 people on both planes. This became the impetus for the modern air traffic control system.
December 8 incidents 
On December 8, 1972, United Airlines Flight 553, a Boeing 737-200, crashed into a residential area outside Midway during landing. The crash of the 737-200 killed 43 of the 61 on board, and two on the ground.
Exactly 33 years later, on December 8, 2005, Southwest Airlines Flight 1248, a Boeing 737-700 inbound from Baltimore-Washington International Airport in Baltimore, Maryland, slid off the runway while attempting to land at the airport in a heavy snow storm. The airplane broke through the barrier fence of the airport, and came to rest at the intersection of 55th Street and Central Avenue bordering the airport at its northwest corner. A 6-year-old boy was killed as a passenger in a vehicle that was struck by the plane after it skidded into the street.
|May 31, 1936||NC14979||DC-2||Trans World Airlines||-||On approach to 27L, 1 engine out, strong gusts, crashed half a mile east of field|
|December 4, 1940||NC25678||DC-3A||United Airlines||6356 S. Keating Ave.||Pilot lost sight in bad weather and crashed on landing approach resulting in nine deaths.|
|May 21, 1943||B-24||US ARMY||3625 W. 73rd St.||On approach, disoriented in bad weather, hit huge gas storage tank 2.5 miles (4.0 km) southeast|
|September 26, 1946||NC19939||DC-3||Trans World Airlines||West of 96th Ave. at 97th St.||Midair collision with Boeing PT-17, DC-3 limped in to Midway|
|July 2, 1946||NC28383||DC-3||Trans World Airlines||-||Crashed 1.5 miles (2.4 km) northeast of field|
|March 10, 1948||NC37478||DC-4||Delta Air Lines||5000 W. 55th St.||Plane took off 36L, at 150 feet (46 m) went vertical, at 500 feet (150 m) nosed over, crashed on 55th St.|
|March 26, 1949||NC90736||DC-6||American Airlines||-||Hit power lines on approach|
|December 18, 1949||NC86501||L-049||Trans World Airlines||-||Landing too far down 13R, crashed through fence, ended up at 63rd and Cicero|
|January 4, 1951||N79982||C-46||Monarch Airlines||-||Overloaded taking off on 31L, could not climb, crashed on railroad tracks one half mile northeast|
|September 16, 1951||N74689||C-46||Peninsula Transport||-||Belly-landed 500 yards (460 m) away at northeast 63rd and Harlem|
|March 3, 1953||N6214C||L-1049||Eastern Airlines||On field||Landed on 31L, gear collapsed, skidded southwest toward Hale School|
|July 17, 1955||N3422||Convair 340||Braniff International Airways||On field||Hit gas station sign on approach to 13R, flipped over, crashed|
|August 5, 1955||N74601||Boeing 377||Northwest Airlines||-||Landed 31L, could not stop, crashed through fence at 55th and Central|
|February 20, 1956||N7404||Vickers Viscount||Capitol||On field||Landing on 31L, plane flopped in 300 feet (91 m) short of threshold|
|March 15, 1959||N94273||Convair 240||American Airlines||-||Lost sight of 31L on approach, crashed in railroad yard one half mile south of field|
|November 24, 1959||N102R||L-1049H||Trans World Airlines||Came to rest 63rd and Kilpatrick||Plane departed 31L, fire on #2, circled to land 31L, crashed 0.2 miles (0.32 km) southeast of field|
|September 1, 1961||N86511||L-049||Trans World Airlines||-||Plane departed Midway, lost elevator bolt, crashed near Hinsdale, Illinois|
|December 8, 1972||N9031U||737-200||United Airlines||71st and Springfield||Aircraft descended too low on approach to 31L and struck houses, crashed 1.25 miles (2.01 km) southeast of airport|
|March 25, 1976||N1EM||Lockheed Jetstar||Executive||On field||Pilot unfamiliar with plane attempted take off 13R, never airborne, crashed into fence 63rd and Cicero|
|August 6, 1976||N9446Z||TB-25N||Air Chicago||61st and Moody Avenue||Poor maintenance, plane took off 4L, lost engine 2, crashed 0.4 miles (0.64 km) west of field|
|December 8, 2005||N471WN||737-700||Southwest Airlines||55th & Central||Landed 31C during snowstorm, crashed through fence, hit 2 cars, killed child in car, 55th and Central|
INFORMATION SOURCED FROM: Civil Aeronautics Board archives, NTSB records.
NOTE: The runway now designated 13C/31C was designated 13R/31L until 1989, when a new Runway 13R/31L was built. Runways 27L and 36L have been closed since the 1970s.
Midway Airport is served by the Chicago Transit Authority's "L" trains. Passengers can board Orange Line trains at a station in the airport terminal, which runs to downtown Chicago and the Loop (transit time about 25 minutes). This same station doubles as a stop for many CTA-run buses that serve the surrounding areas. Midway is one of the few airports in the United States that has rapid transit train to terminal service.
See also 
- O'Hare International Airport
- Gary/Chicago International Airport
- Chicago Rockford International Airport
- Proposed Chicago south suburban airport
- Illinois World War II Army Airfields
- FAA Airport Master Record for MDW ( PDF). Retrieved March 15, 2007.
- City of Chicago, Airport Activity Statistics, December 2011, published January 26, 2012.
- "Southwest Airlines Fact sheet". Southwest Airlines. April 8, 2007.
- Schulte, Sarah. "SWA flights take off at Midway, airline's largest hub." WLS-TV. April 4, 2011. Retrieved on April 4, 2011.
- "Chicago Airport System Airport Statistics". Chicago Airport System. December 1, 2007.
- "Chicago Transportation: Chicago Midway Airport". USA Today. May 12, 2007.[dead link]
- "Midway Airport". Encyclopedia of Chicago.
- "History of Midway International Airport". Fly Chicago. April 28, 2007.
- "Midway Airport Visitors Guide (History Section)". FlyChicago.com. May 12, 2007. Archived from the original on April 14, 2008.
- Official Aviation Guide, Chicago IL: Official Aviation Guide Company, 1939
- This video of Chicago Midway Airport in 1954 shows the increase in traffic that Midway Airport experienced during the 1950s."Chicago Midway Airport – 1954". YouTube. December 2, 2007.
- Official Airline Guide, Washington DC: American Aviation Publications, 1957
- "Southwest Airlines Fact Sheet: Top Ten Airports". Southwest Airlines. May 12, 2007.
- "Early History/Post O'hare history". The Tracon. April 6, 2007.
- "New Midway Terminal". Airport-Technology.com. April 6, 2007.
- HNTB – Chicago Midway Airport
- "ATA Facts". ATA Airlines. December 1, 2007. Archived from the original on March 28, 2008.
- Mutzabaugh, Ben. "ATA to end service to DCA, LGA". USA Today.[dead link]
- "ATA Airlines to Discontinue Scheduled Service at Chicago's Midway Airport". ATA Airlines. PR Newswire.
- "ATA AIRLINES DISCONTINUES ALL OPERATIONS." ATA Airlines.
- "ATA Codeshare Information." Southwest Airlines.
- Midway Airport deal falls apart: Consortium can't borrow cash needed to finance deal – Chicago Tribune – April 21, 2009
- "2005 North America Final Traffic Report: Total Passengers". Airports Council International North America. April 8, 2007. Archived from the original on January 3, 2008.
- "Customer Satisfaction with Airports Declines Sharply Amid an Industry Fraught with Flight Delays". J.D. Power and Associates. May 20, 2008. Archived from the original on June 25, 2008.
- "Southwest's Daily Departures from MDW". Southwest Airlines.
- "MDW FAA Information Effective 11 February 2010". AirNav. February 11, 2010.
- "Monthly Operations, Passengers, Cargo Summary By Class For December 2008". City of Chicago. January 21, 2009.
- "Frontier Airlines Provides Low Fare Service From Wilmington, Delaware". Frontier Airlines. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
- "Chicago, IL: Chicago Midway International (MDW)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics. May 2011.
- Lakeshore Express, Retrieved 2013-03-01
- UA had 25 flights from DEN, DSM, MLI, LGA, OMA, PIT, and DCA; AA had 13 from DTW, EWR, ROC and STL; NW had 10 from MSP and CLE.
- "Midway Airlines". Encyclopedia of Chicago. April 27, 2007.
- "American to pull out of Chicago Midway". USA Today. April 6, 2007.[dead link]
- "United to pull out of Chicago Midway". USA Today. April 6, 2007.[dead link]
- "Big Sky Airlines Service". Big Sky Airlines. April 6, 2007. Archived from the original on April 6, 2007.
- "Mesa Airlines Service". The Quincy Whig. November 30, 2007. Archived from the original on June 25, 2008.
- "Boy dies as jet skids off runway". BBC News. December 9, 2005. Retrieved February 17, 2010.
- "Plane Crash Toll at Nine". The Tuscaloosa News. Associated Press. December 6, 1940. p. 12.
- "6 Dead in Crash of U.S. Airliner". The Montreal Gazette. Associated Press. December 5, 1940. p. 1.
- "Map of "L" Train". Chicago Transit Authority. 2007-08.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Chicago Midway International Airport|
- Official website
- Midway International Airport: Terminal and Concourse Maps
- TWA Crash of 1959
- 1972 Crash Summary
- Survey number HABS IL-305 – Midway Airport, South Terminal, Cicero Avenue between Fifty-fifth & Sixty-third Streets, Chicago, Cook County, IL
- openNav: MDW / KMDW charts
- (PDF), effective May 2, 2013
- Resources for this airport: