O'Hare International Airport

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Chicago O'Hare International Airport
O'Hare Airport Logo.jpg
O'Hare International Airport (USGS).png
USGS aerial image, 2011
IATA: ORDICAO: KORDFAA LID: ORD
WMO: 72530
Summary
Airport type Public
Owner City of Chicago
Operator Chicago Department of Aviation
Serves Chicago, Illinois, United States
Hub for
Focus city for Spirit Airlines
Elevation AMSL 668 ft / 204 m
Coordinates 41°58′43″N 87°54′17″W / 41.97861°N 87.90472°W / 41.97861; -87.90472Coordinates: 41°58′43″N 87°54′17″W / 41.97861°N 87.90472°W / 41.97861; -87.90472
Website www.flychicago.com/ohare
Map
ORD is located in Chicago
ORD
ORD
Location of airport in Chicago
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
4L/22R 7,500 2,286 Asphalt
4R/22L 8,075 2,461 Asphalt
9L/27R 7,500 2,286 Concrete
9R/27L 7,967 2,428 Asphalt/Concrete
10C/28C 10,800 3,291 Concrete
10L/28R 13,001 3,962 Asphalt/Concrete
14L/32R 10,005 3,050 Asphalt
14R/32L 9,685 2,952 Asphalt/Concrete
Helipads
Number Length Surface
ft m
H1 200 61 Concrete
Statistics (2013)
Passenger volume 66,909,638
Aircraft movements 883,287
Cargo (metric tonnes) 1,434,377
Economic impact (2012) $14.1 billion[1]
Sources: FAA[2] and airport's website.[3]
Statistics from ACI[4]

Chicago O'Hare International Airport (IATA: ORDICAO: KORDFAA LID: ORD), also known as O'Hare Airport, O'Hare Field, Chicago International Airport, or simply O'Hare, is a major airport located in the northwestern-most corner of Chicago, Illinois, 17 miles (27 km) northwest of the Chicago Loop. It is the primary airport serving the Chicago area, with Chicago Midway International Airport, about 10 miles (16 km) closer to the Loop, serving as a secondary airport for low-cost carriers.

O'Hare is a major hub for United Airlines (including United Express), which is the largest airline at O'Hare, carrying over 45% of all passengers passing through the airport. Carrying 15.2 million passengers annually, O'Hare is United's second largest hub after Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport. American Airlines (including American Eagle) has the second largest operation at O'Hare, carrying 37.08% of passengers. O'Hare is American Airlines' second-largest hub, after Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.[5] O'Hare is also a hub for regional carrier Air Choice One as well as a focus city for Spirit Airlines.

Until 2005, O'Hare was the world's busiest airport in number of takeoffs and landings. Until 1998, O'Hare was the busiest airport in the world in number of passengers. Mainly due to limits imposed on the airport by the federal government to reduce flight delays,[6] Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport became the busiest by the former metric in 2005. O'Hare is the world's second busiest airport in aircraft movements. In 2008, the airport had 881,566 aircraft operations, an average of 2,409 per day (64% scheduled commercial, 33% air taxi, 3% general aviation and 1% military).[2] O'Hare is the fifth busiest airport in the world (after Atlanta, Beijing Capital International Airport, London Heathrow Airport and Tokyo Haneda Airport) with 66,633,503 passengers passing through the airport in 2012, a −0.1% change from 2011.[4] O'Hare has a strong international presence, with flights to more than 60 foreign destinations. It is the fourth busiest international gateway in the United States behind John F. Kennedy International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport and Miami International Airport.

O'Hare has been voted the "Best Airport in North America" for 10 years by two separate sources: Readers of the U.S. Edition of Business Traveler Magazine (1998–2003) and Global Traveler Magazine (2004–2007).[7] Travel and Leisure magazine's 2009 "America's Favorite Cities" ranked Chicago's Airport System (O'Hare and Midway) the second-worst for delays, New York City's airport system (JFK, Newark Liberty, and LaGuardia) being the first.[8] O'Hare currently accounts for over a sixth of the nation's total flight cancellations.[9]

It is operated by the City of Chicago Department of Aviation. Most of O'Hare Airport is in Cook County, but a section of the southwest part of the airport is in DuPage County. The Cook County portion is located within a section of the City of Chicago contiguously connected to the rest of the city via a narrow strip of land about 200 ft (61 m) wide, running along Foster Avenue, from the Des Plaines River to the airport.[10][11] This land was annexed into the city limits in the 1950s to assure the massive tax revenues associated with the airport were part of the city. The strip is bounded on the north by Rosemont and the south by Schiller Park.[12]

History[edit]

Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat on display in O'Hare's Terminal 2, restored in the markings of "Butch" O'Hare's plane

World War II[edit]

The airport was constructed in 1942–43 as a manufacturing plant for Douglas C-54s during World War II.[13] The site was chosen for its proximity to the city and transportation.[13] The two million square foot (180,000 m²) factory needed easy access to the workforce of the nation's then-second-largest city, as well as its extensive railroad infrastructure. Orchard Place was a small nearby farming community.[13]

Douglas Company's contract ended in 1945 and though plans were proposed to build commercial aircraft, the company ultimately chose to concentrate production on the west coast. With the departure of Douglas, the airport took the name of Orchard Field Airport, the source of its three-letter IATA code ORD.

In 1945, O'Hare was chosen by the city of Chicago as the site for a facility to meet future aviation demands. Matthew Laflin Rockwell (1915–1988) was the director of planning for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and responsible for the site selection and design of O'Hare. He was the great grandson of Matthew Laflin, a founder and pioneer of Chicago.

In 1949, the airport was renamed "O'Hare International Airport" to honor Edward O'Hare, the U.S. Navy's first flying ace and Medal of Honor recipient in World War II. Its IATA code, "ORD", remained unchanged, however, resulting in O'Hare being one of the rare instance s of an airport's three-letter designation bearing no connection to the airport name or metropolitan area.

Commercial development[edit]

Airline Operations (Takeoffs Plus Landings)
Midway O'Hare
1958 337,421 66,205
1959 345,170 82,417
1960 298,582 163,351
1961 187,978 235,908
1962 46,873 331,090
1963 19,054 358,266
1964 19,017 389,640
1965 16,716 443,026
1966 5,090 478,644
1967 4,427 573,506
1968 26,941 628,632
1969 31,394 632,030
1970 43,553 598,973
1971 51,734 565,826

By the early 1950s, Midway Airport, Chicago's primary airport since 1931, had become too crowded despite multiple expansions and could not handle the planned first generation of jets. The city of Chicago and the FAA began to develop O'Hare as the main airport for Chicago's future.

In 1953, while traveling to an airshow at Naval Air Station Glenview in Chicago, Illinois, Blue Angels pilot LT Harding MacKnight experienced an engine flameout in his F7U Cutlass, forcing him to make an emergency landing at NAS Glenview. Traveling with him, LT "Whitey" Feightner was redirected to make his landing at O'Hare. The runway had just been completed and was covered with peach baskets to prevent aircraft from landing until it was opened. LT Feightner was told to ignore the baskets and land on the new runway. As a result, LT Feightner's F7U became the first aircraft to land on the new runway for O'Hare.

Commercial passenger flights started in 1955 and by the following year O'Hare was served by American, BOAC, Braniff, Capital, Delta, Eastern, North Central, Pan Am, TWA and United, along with freight airlines Riddle and Slick.[14] O'Hare also opened a $1 million "Skymotive" terminal for corporate aircraft in 1955, the first of its kind.[15]

Growth was slow at first. By 1957 Chicago had invested over $25 million in O'Hare, but Midway remained the world's busiest airport and airlines were reluctant to relocate all of their services to O'Hare until better highway access and other capital improvements were completed.[16] The April 1957 Official Airline Guide shows 10 weekday departures on United, 9 on American, 6 on Capital, 3 Eastern, 3 TWA, 2 Delta, 2 North Central, and 1 Braniff. Also three weekly Pan Am and one weekly BOAC (Air France and Lufthansa were at Midway). O'Hare's first dedicated international terminal opened in August 1958. By April 1959 the airport had expanded to 7,200 acres (29 km2) with new hangars, terminals, parking and other facilities. The expressway link to downtown Chicago, then known as the Northwest Expressway, was completed in 1960.[14]

Ground was broken for the main terminal complex (of which Terminals 2 and 3 remain today) on April 1, 1959.[17] The complex, designed by C. F. Murphy and Associates, opened on January 1, 1962.[17][18]

All fixed-wing scheduled airline service in Chicago moved from Midway to O'Hare by July 1962. President John F. Kennedy attended a dedication ceremony in 1963; after he was assassinated later that year, the section of Interstate 94 between downtown Chicago and O'Hare was renamed the Kennedy Expressway.[14] The arrival of Midway's former traffic quickly made O'Hare the world's busiest airport, serving 10 million passengers annually. Within two years that number would double, with more people passing through O'Hare in 12 months than Ellis Island had processed in its entire existence. In late 1972, Chicago city officials reached an agreement with airlines to shift some services back to Midway in order to ease the overcrowding at O'Hare.[19] Despite this, O'Hare remained the world's busiest airport until 1998.[20] In the late 1960s Midway was nearly abandoned; it enjoyed a revival after startup carrier Midway Airlines began low-cost service there in 1979–80.[21]

Pre-deregulation service[edit]

American Airlines, United Airlines and Trans World Airlines had many routes to the West Coast, Northeast and Midwest. TWA flew to Europe nonstop from O'Hare starting in 1958.[22][23][24] Northwest Orient Airlines flew to the Northeast, Pacific Northwest, Florida and Hawaii, as well as service through Alaska to Japan and the Far East.[25] Their 747 to Tokyo was O'Hare's first nonstop to Asia, in 1977. Delta Air Lines served the Southeast and Midwest.[26]

During this era international flights used Terminal 1. United, Ozark, Braniff, Eastern, Northwest, Continental and Piedmont used Terminal 2 (concourses D, and current concourses E and F). In Terminal 3, Concourse G served TWA and Air Canada, and Concourses H and K served American, Delta and North Central (later merged into Republic Airlines).

Post-deregulation developments[edit]

In the 1980s, after deregulation, TWA replaced Chicago with St. Louis as its main mid-continent hub.[27] Northwest likewise shifted to a Minneapolis and Detroit-centered network by the early 1990s following its acquisition of Republic Airlines in 1986.[28] On January 17, 1980, the airport's weather station became as the official point for Chicago's weather observations and records by the National Weather Service.[29]

United and American both established nationwide hubs at the airport in the 1980s, which continue to operate today. United developed a new US$500 million Terminal 1 ("The Terminal of the Future" or "Terminal of Tomorrow") designed by Helmut Jahn and A. Epstein and Sons,[30] with Turner Construction as the construction manager,[31] and Thornton Tomasetti serving as the structural engineer.[32] It was built between 1985 and 1987 on the site of the old international terminal. Ground was broken for the new terminal complex in March 1985.[31] The terminal opened with 13 gates on June 15, 1987.[33] The terminal was officially dedicated on August 4, 1987 with Mayor Harold Washington in attendance at the dedication ceremony, and the ticketing and baggage claim areas, as well as 29 more gates, were opened.[34] Concourse D of Terminal 2 was demolished in order to make way for the rest of the terminal, which was completed in December 1988.[35] American renovated its existing facilities in Terminal 3 from 1987 to 1990. These renovations were designed by Kober/Belluschi Associates, Inc. and Welton Becket & Associates.[36] Delta maintained a Chicago hub for some time, and opened a new Concourse L. designed by Perkins and Will and Milton Pate & Associates, in Terminal 3 (initially known as the "Delta Flight Center") in 1983, but ultimately closed its Chicago hub in the 1990s.[36]

Due to the construction of Terminal 1 for United, international flights were relocated to a temporary Terminal 4 from 1984 until 1993. Terminal 4 was located on the ground floor of the main parking garage; international passengers would check in there and be taken directly to their aircraft by bus. Ground for the new US$618 million International Terminal was broken on July 11, 1990 with airline executives and government officials, led by Mayor Richard M. Daley and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Samuel K. Skinner, in attendance.[37] The new Terminal 5, designed by Perkins and Will in conjunction with Heard & Associates and Consoer Townsend & Associates[38] partially opened on May 27, 1993 with its two lower levels completed to handle all international arrivals.[39] The rest of the terminal, including the departures level, opened on September 30, 1993.[40] Since the opening of Terminal 5, Terminal 4 has been changed into the airport's facility for CTA buses, hotel shuttles, and other ground transportation; the T4 designation may be used again in the future as new terminals are developed. The CTA Blue Line was extended to the airport in 1984.[14]

Total annual passenger volume at O'Hare reached 30 million in 1968, 40 million in 1976, 60 million in 1990 and 70 million in 1997.[14]

A$80 million renovation of Concourse G in Terminal 3 designed by Teng & Associates, Inc. commenced in the spring of 1999[41] and finished in the spring of 2001. The concourse was enlarged into a 144,500-square-foot facility with 25 remodeled gates. Six large "sky vaults," which are huge skylights atop V-shaped columns that bring natural light into a previously confined space, were constructed. A new 4,138 square-foot Admirals Club was also added to the concourse.[42]

Delta moved from Terminal 3 to Terminal 2 in 2009 in order to align its operations with merger partner Northwest Airlines. Continental moved from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1 in 2010 prior to merging with United.[43]

In 2013, the Chicago Department of Aviation appropriated a $19,500 two-year contract to use livestock, specifically goats, sheep, llamas, and burros, to assist with grounds maintenance.[44] This plan was implemented due to difficulties in reaching certain areas on the runway property with traditional lawn mowing machines due to rocky or sloped terrain.[45] About 25 animals were recruited chiefly to clear growing vegetation around the approximately 120 acre space around the runways.[46] A secondary reason for the introduction of the animals, especially the llamas and burros, was to reduce interference from wildlife such as coyotes and birds that may come when smaller prey settle in unmaintained, grassy areas.[47]

United States Air Force use[edit]

See: O'Hare Air Reserve Station

The original Douglas Aircraft C-54 Skymaster transport manufacturing plant on the northeast side of the airport became a United States Air Force Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve facility after World War II. It was used by the USAF from 1947 until 1999 as O'Hare Air Reserve Station, making the airport a joint civil-military airfield during this period.

The 1993 Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommended the closure of O'Hare Air Reserve Station as proposed by the municipal government of the City of Chicago and the transfer of both the Illinois Air National Guard's 126th Air Refueling Wing (126 ARW) and its KC-135 aircraft, and the Air Force Reserve Command's 928th Airlift Wing (928 AW) and its C-130 aircraft to new facilities to be constructed at Scott AFB, Illinois. The 126 ARW moved from the former O'Hare Air Reserve Station to Scott AFB, Illinois in 1999 as recommended by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission's Report to Congress in conjunction with the closure of the Air Force Reserve Command and Air National Guard facilities at O'Hare. Instead of moving to Scott AFB, subsequent BRAC action directed that the 928 AW be inactivated and its C-130 aircraft reallocated to other Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units.

Following the closure of the O'Hare Air Reserve Station, the former USAF facilities were redeveloped for air cargo and general aviation. Today, Signature Flight Support services private aircraft in this area.

Incidents and accidents[edit]

1,057 fatalities have occurred as a result of airplane accidents en route to or from O'Hare.[48]

  • On December 16, 1960, United Airlines Flight 826, bound from O'Hare to Idlewild Airport in New York, collided in mid-air over New York City with Trans World Airlines Flight 266, descending into LaGuardia Airport. One plane crashed into Staten Island and the other crashed into Park Slope, Brooklyn, killing all 128 people on both aircraft and six people on the ground.[49]
  • On September 17, 1961, Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 706 had a mechanical failure in control surfaces and crashed upon takeoff, killing all 37 on board.[50]
  • On August 16, 1965, United Airlines Flight 389 crashed 30 miles (48 km) east of O'Hare while on approach, killing all 30 on board.[51]
  • On March 21, 1968, United Airlines Flight 9963 a Boeing 727 overran runway 09R on take off. All 3 crew onboard were injured and the aircraft was damaged beyond repair.[52]
  • On December 27, 1968, North Central Airlines Flight 458 crashed into a hangar at O'Hare, killing 27 onboard and one on the ground.[53]
  • On December 20, 1972, North Central Airlines Flight 575 crashed upon takeoff after colliding with Delta Airlines Flight 954 taxiing across the active runway, killing 10 passengers.[54]
  • On March 28, 1977, Douglas C-47A N57131 of Emery Worldwide was destroyed by fire following a taxiing accident. The aircraft was due to operate a cargo flight.[55]
  • On May 25, 1979, American Airlines Flight 191 to Los Angeles International Airport lost its left wing engine while taking off from runway 32R, then stalled and crashed into a field on the opposite side of Touhy Avenue from present-day Runway 9L/27R, killing all 271 people on board and two people on the ground. The crash remains the deadliest single-aircraft crash in United States history, and the deadliest aviation disaster in U.S. history before the September 11, 2001 attacks.[56]
  • On March 19, 1982, a USAF KC-135 crashed upon approach to O'Hare 40 miles (64 km) northwest of the city (near Woodstock), killing 27 people on board.[57]
  • On August 10, 1986, American Trans Air Flight 131 caught fire on the tarmac, destroying the plane. Nobody was killed.[58]
  • On October 31, 1994, American Eagle Flight 4184 from Indianapolis International Airport was circling over northwestern Indiana while waiting for a landing slot at O'Hare to open up when its wings iced up, causing the plane to nosedive into a cornfield, killing all 68 people on board.[59]
  • On February 9, 1998, American Airlines Flight 1340 crashed upon landing from Kansas City, injuring 22 passengers.[60]
  • On April 1, 1999, an Air China Boeing 747, Flight 9018, taxied onto an active runway at O'Hare during the takeoff of Korean Air Flight 36, another 747. Flight 36 averted a collision by taking off early and missing the Air China aircraft by 75 feet. There were 8 people on the Air China cargo plane and 379 on the Korean Air flight.[61]

Train incidents[edit]

  • On March 24, 2014 a Blue Line train derailed in the airport's 'L' station when it overran a bumper block. 32 people were injured, as the train rolled into the airport subway station onto a platform and crashed into an escalator.[62]

Terminals[edit]

A terminal map of O'Hare Airport
O'Hare provides a secure area with dimmed lights, cots, pillows, blankets, and toiletries for passengers stranded overnight[63]

O'Hare has four numbered passenger terminals with nine lettered concourses and a total of 182 aircraft gates. Two or more additional terminal buildings are envisioned; there is the possibility of a large terminal complex for the west side of the field, with access from I-90 and/or the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway, if the runway reconfiguration is completed and passenger numbers require additional terminals.

All international arrivals at O'Hare (except flights from destinations with border preclearance) arrive at Terminal 5, as the other terminals do not have Customs facilities. Some airlines, such as United Airlines, American Airlines, Iberia and Lufthansa, will deplane aircraft at Terminal 5 and then, after passengers are offloaded, taxi the planes to other terminals (Terminal 1 for United and Lufthansa, for example) for boarding. This is done at least in part to make connections for passengers transferring from domestic flights to international flights easier, since while Terminals 1, 2, and 3 have corridors that connect them on the sterile side, transferring to Terminal 5 requires exiting security, riding the Airport Transit System people mover, then reclearing security.

Terminal 1[edit]

United Airlines Terminal 1, Concourse B
United Airlines Terminal 1, Concourse C
United Airlines Terminal 1, Concourse C

Terminal 1 houses most United Airlines flights, including all domestic and international mainline flights, as well as departures for a select number of Star Alliance partners, including Lufthansa and All Nippon Airways. A select number of United Express operations also use this terminal. However, because Terminal 1 lacks customs handling facilities, all international arrivals on these carriers (except from airports with Customs preclearance) deplane at Terminal 5 and the aircraft are then towed back to Terminal 1 for departure. It has 50 gates on two concourses:

  • Concourse B – 22 gates
  • Concourse C – 28 gates

Concourses B and C are linear concourses located in separate buildings parallel to each other. Concourse B is adjacent to the airport roadway and houses passenger check-in, baggage claim and security screening on its landside and aircraft gates on its airside. Concourse C is a satellite terminal with gates on all sides, in the middle of the tarmac, and is connected to Concourse B via an underground pedestrian tunnel under the tarmac, lit with a neon light show, and an airy and very slow-tempo version of "Rhapsody in Blue".

United also runs a post-security shuttle bus service between Concourse C (Gate C9) and Concourses E & F (Gate E2A) in Terminal 2. There are three United Clubs in Terminal 1: one on Concourse B near gate B6 on the same level as departures, one located in the basement near gate B18, and one on Concourse C near gate C16. There is also a United First International Lounge and United Arrivals Suite in Concourse C near gate C18.

Terminal 1 houses All Nippon Airways's Chicago office.[64]

Terminal 2[edit]

Terminal 2 houses Air Canada and Delta Air Lines domestic flights (Delta's seasonal flight to Paris operates from International Terminal 5 as the gates in Terminal 2 do not accommodate the Boeing 767-300ER normally assigned to that route). United Express also operates a number of flights from Terminal 2, but check-in for these flights is conducted in Terminal 1. There is a United Club in Concourse F near gate F4A, and a Delta SkyClub on Concourse E. United Continental Holdings, the parent company of United Airlines, is currently upgrading its facilities at Terminal 2, including constructing 10 new jet bridges for its United Express flights, reconfiguration of the holding rooms, and a newly constructed United Club as a replacement of the current club.[65] US Airways previously operated flights from Terminal 2 until they began operating from Terminal 3 with its partner airline American. Check-in for US Airways still remains at Terminal 2. A Concourse D previously existed and served as the concourse for AirCal, Braniff, Continental, Eastern, Northwest Orient, Piedmont and United Express until it was demolished in 1988 to make room for the current Terminal 1 concourses.

Terminal 2 has 42 gates on two concourses:

  • Concourse E – 16 gates
  • Concourse F – 26 gates

Terminal 3[edit]

American Airlines Terminal 3 Main Hall

Terminal 3 houses all American Airlines and US Airways operations (though US Airways check-in desks are in Terminal 2), as well as departures for oneworld alliance carriers Air Berlin, Iberia, Japan Airlines, and Qatar Airways. Also, unaffiliated domestic low-cost carriers operate in Terminal 3. Terminal 3 has 80 gates on four concourses:

  • Concourse G – 26 gates
  • Concourse H – 21 gates
  • Concourse K – 22 gates
  • Concourse L – 11 gates

Concourse G primarily houses American Eagle operations, while Concourses H and K house American's mainline operations, and Concourse L, the previous home of Delta, now houses AmericanConnection flights, and has three gates used for mainline operations (L1, L8, and L10) as well as for codeshare partners Alaska Airlines and Westjet. Low-cost carriers Spirit Airlines, JetBlue, Virgin America and Air Choice One operate the odd-numbered gate side of Concourse L beginning at gate L3. Qatar Airways operates out of gate L10, Japan Airlines and Iberia operate out of gate K19 and Air Berlin operates out of gate H15 . There are two Admirals Clubs in Terminal 3: one located in the crosswalk area between gates H6 and K6, and a smaller one in Concourse G across from gate G8. American also has a Flagship Lounge located near gate K19.

Terminal 5 (International Terminal)[edit]

Terminal 5, with flags of countries around the world
Aircraft lined up at Terminal 5

All international arrivals at O'Hare (Aer Lingus and Etihad as a preclearance uses Terminal 5 for arrivals) excluding flights from destinations with U.S. border preclearance) are processed at Terminal 5, which also handles most non-US carriers and certain domestic low-cost carriers (Delta is the only US carrier that uses Terminal 5 for its nonstop seasonal flight to Paris). Terminal 5 has 21 gates and is also designated as Concourse M.

Terminal 5 houses a number of airline lounges including the Aer Lingus Gold Circle Club, Air France Lounge, Alitalia Sala Freccia Alata, British Airways Lounge, Korean Air Lounge, SAS Business Lounge and Swiss Lounge. It also houses U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the arrival (lower) level. Terminal 5 underwent a $26 million renovation designed by A. Epstein and Sons International, Inc., which began in July 2012, features world-class dining and retail post-security – including many Chicago-based restaurants and brands – cutting edge design, and a re-engineered layout. The project was completed on April 4, 2014.[66]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Note: All international arrivals, except for arrivals from airports with U.S. customs preclearance, are serviced at Terminal 5, regardless of departure terminal.

Destinations with direct service to O'Hare.
A line of aircraft on one of the taxiways
An Air France Airbus A330-200 taxiing near Terminal 5
An American Airlines Boeing 767-300
A British Airways Boeing 777-300ER landing on Runway 32L/14R
An Iberia Airbus A340-600 pulling up to Terminal 5
A Qatar Airways Boeing 777-300ER boarding at Terminal 5
A United Airlines Boeing 747-400 taxiing at O'Hare
A United Airlines Boeing 767-300ER taxiing at Terminal 1
A US Airways Airbus A320 taxis to Terminal 2. In the background is the heritage America West Airlines Airbus A319.
Airlines Destinations Terminal/
Concourse
Aer Lingus Dublin 5M
Aeroméxico Guadalajara, Mexico City
Seasonal: Monterrey, Morelia, Puerto Vallarta
5M
Air Berlin Berlin–Tegel 3K
Air Canada Toronto–Pearson 2E
Air Canada Express Montréal–Trudeau, Toronto–Pearson 2E
Air Choice One Burlington (IA), Decatur, Ironwood 3L
Air France Seasonal: Paris–Charles de Gaulle 5M
Air India Delhi, Hyderabad 5M
Alaska Airlines Anchorage, Portland (OR), Seattle/Tacoma 3L
Alitalia Seasonal: Rome–Fiumicino 5M
All Nippon Airways Tokyo–Narita 1C
American Airlines Austin, Beijing–Capital, Boston, Cancún, Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Düsseldorf, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Las Vegas, London–Heathrow, Los Angeles, Manchester (UK), Mexico City, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK, New York–LaGuardia, Orange County (CA), Orlando, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland (OR), Raleigh/Durham, Reno/Tahoe, St. Louis, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), San Juan, Seattle/Tacoma, Shanghai–Pudong, Tampa, Tokyo–Narita, Tucson, Tulsa, Washington–National, West Palm Beach
Seasonal: Cozumel, Dublin, Eagle/Vail, Helsinki, Honolulu, Jackson Hole, Montego Bay, Palm Springs, Puerto Vallarta, Rome–Fiumicino, San José del Cabo,
3H, 3K, 3L
American Eagle Albuquerque, Atlanta, Baltimore, Bismarck (begins October 2, 2014), Bloomington/Normal, Buffalo, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Champaign/Urbana, Charlottesville, Chattanooga, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbia (MO), Columbus (OH), Dayton, Denver, Des Moines, Detroit, Dubuque, El Paso, Evansville, Fargo, Flint, Fayetteville (AR), Fort Wayne, Green Bay, Harrisburg, Hartford, Houston–Intercontinental, Huntsville, Indianapolis, Jacksonville (FL), Kalamazoo, Kansas City, Kitchener/Waterloo, Knoxville, La Crosse, Lexington, Little Rock, Louisville, Madison, Manhattan (KS), Marquette, Memphis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Montréal–Trudeau, Nashville, New Orleans, Newark, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Peoria, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh/Durham, Rochester (MN), Rochester (NY), St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, Sioux City, Sioux Falls, Springfield/Branson, Syracuse, Toledo, Toronto–Pearson, Traverse City, Tulsa, Washington–National, Waterloo, Wausau/Stevens Point, White Plains, Wichita
Seasonal: Hayden/Steamboat Springs, Rapid City
3G, 3H, 3K, 3L
Apple Vacations operated by Alaska Airlines Seasonal: Puerto Vallarta 5M
Apple Vacations operated by Aeroméxico Seasonal: Cozumel, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo 5M
Apple Vacations operated by Frontier Airlines Cancún, Huatulco, Montego Bay, Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana, San José del Cabo 5M
Asiana Airlines Seoul–Incheon 5M
Austrian Airlines operated by Tyrolean Airways Vienna 5M
Avianca San Salvador 5M
British Airways London–Heathrow 5M
Cathay Pacific Hong Kong 5M
Cayman Airways Seasonal: Grand Cayman 5M
Copa Airlines Panama City 5M
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul 2E
Delta Air Lines Seasonal: Paris–Charles de Gaulle 5M
Delta Connection Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK, Salt Lake City 2E
Delta Shuttle New York–LaGuardia 2E
Emirates Dubai-International (begins August 5, 2014)[67] 5M
Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi 5M
Frontier Airlines Atlanta (begins October 2, 2014), Cleveland (begins October 1, 2014), Denver (begins October 1, 2014), [68] Washington-Dulles (begins September 15, 2014)[69] 5M
Hainan Airlines Beijing–Capital 5M
Iberia Madrid 3K
Japan Airlines Tokyo–Narita 3K
JetBlue Airways Boston, New York–JFK, San Juan 3L
KLM Amsterdam 5M
Korean Air Seoul–Incheon 5M
LOT Polish Airlines Warsaw–Chopin 5M
Lufthansa Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich 1B
Qatar Airways Doha 3L
Royal Jordanian Amman–Queen Alia 5M
Scandinavian Airlines Copenhagen, Stockholm–Arlanda 5M
Spirit Airlines Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Houston–Intercontinental, Kansas City (begins August 7, 2014),[70] Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–LaGuardia, Oakland, Orlando, Tampa
Seasonal: Atlantic City, Baltimore, Boston, Myrtle Beach, Phoenix, Portland (OR)
3L
Swiss International Air Lines Zurich 5M
Turkish Airlines Istanbul–Atatürk 5M
United Airlines Albany (NY), Amsterdam, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Beijing–Capital, Belize City (begins December 20, 2014), Boise, Boston, Brussels, Buffalo, Calgary, Cancún, Charlotte, Cleveland, Columbus (OH), Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Des Moines, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Frankfurt, Grand Rapids, Harrisburg, Hartford, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Houston–Intercontinental, Jacksonville (FL), Kansas City, Las Vegas, London–Heathrow, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Munich, New Orleans, New York–LaGuardia, Newark, Omaha, Orange County (CA), Orlando, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland (OR), Providence, Raleigh/Durham, Richmond, Rochester (NY), Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose de Costa Rica, San Juan, São Paulo–Guarulhos, Sarasota, Seattle/Tacoma, Shanghai–Pudong, Singapore, Tampa, Tokyo–Narita, Toronto–Pearson, Vancouver, Washington–Dulles, Washington–National
Seasonal: Anchorage, Aruba, Bozeman, Cozumel, Edinburgh,[71] Fairbanks,[72] Fort Myers, Jackson Hole, Kahului, Liberia, Miami, Montego Bay, Palm Springs, Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana, Shannon,[73] St. Maarten, St. Thomas, San José del Cabo, West Palm Beach
1B, 1C
United Express Akron/Canton, Albany (NY), Albuquerque, Allentown/Bethlehem, Appleton, Asheville, Atlanta, Atlantic City,[74] Austin, Baltimore, Birmingham (AL), Boise, Boston, Bozeman, Buffalo, Burlington (VT), Calgary, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Charleston (SC), Charleston (WV), Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Colorado Springs, Columbia (SC), Columbus (OH), Dallas/Fort Worth, Dayton, Des Moines, Detroit, Duluth, Eau Claire, Edmonton, Elmira/Corning, Erie, Flint, Fargo, Fayetteville (AR), Fort Myers, Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids, Green Bay, Greensboro, Greenville/Spartanburg, Halifax, Houghton/Hancock, Harrisburg, Hartford, Houston–Intercontinental, Huntsville, Indianapolis, Jackson (MS), Jacksonville (FL), Kansas City, Knoxville, Lansing, Lexington, Lincoln, Little Rock, London (ON), Louisville, Madison, Manchester (NH), Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Mobile, Moline/Quad Cities, Monterrey, Montréal–Trudeau, Muskegon, Nashville, New Orleans, New York–LaGuardia, Newark, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Ottawa, Paducah, Peoria, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland (ME), Providence, Quebec City, Raleigh/Durham, Rapid City, Regina, Richmond, Roanoke, Rochester (NY), St. Cloud, St. Louis, Saginaw, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, Saskatoon, Savannah, Sioux Falls, South Bend, Springfield (IL), Springfield/Branson, State College,[75] Syracuse, Topeka (ends September 2, 2014),[76] Toronto–Pearson, Traverse City, Tulsa, Washington–Dulles, Washington–National, Wausau/Stevens Point, White Plains, Wichita, Wilkes–Barre/Scranton, Winnipeg
Seasonal: Aspen, Bangor, Billings, Cody, Fort Myers, Gunnison/Crested Butte,[77] Hayden/Steamboat Springs, Kalispell, Missoula, Myrtle Beach, Nassau, Pensacola, Sarasota, Spokane
1B, 1C, 2E1, 2F1
US Airways Charlotte, Philadelphia, Phoenix 3H2
US Airways Express Charlotte 3H2
Virgin America Los Angeles, San Francisco 3L
Virgin Atlantic Seasonal: London–Heathrow 5M
Volaris Mexico City 5M
WestJet Seasonal: Calgary, Vancouver 3L

1 United's check-in and baggage claim is located at Terminal 1 but uses Concourses E and F, which are part of Terminal 2.

2 US Airways's baggage claim and flights are located at Terminal 3. Check-in is at Terminal 2.[78]

Traffic and statistics[edit]

Busiest international routes from O'Hare (January–December 2013)[79]
Rank Airport Passengers Change
2012/2013
Carriers
1 London (Heathrow), United Kingdom 1,145,084 Decrease01.6% American, British Airways, United, Virgin Atlantic
2 Toronto (Pearson), Canada 648,782 Decrease012.2% Air Canada, American, United
3 Frankfurt, Germany 621,144 Increase04.9% Lufthansa, United
4 Tokyo (Narita), Japan 613,486 Decrease05.0% All Nippon, American, JAL, United
5 Hong Kong, Hong Kong 352,842 Decrease08.1% Cathay Pacific, United
6 Cancún, Mexico 328,674 Decrease00.9% American, Frontier, United
7 Mexico City, Mexico 327,555 Increase03.1% Aeroméxico, American, United, Volaris
8 Paris (Charles de Gaulle), France 326,701 Decrease03.3% Air France, American, Delta, United
9 Dublin, Ireland 325,838 Increase019.3% Aer Lingus, American
10 Montréal (Trudeau), Canada 317,980 Decrease08.7% Air Canada, American, United
Top 10 domestic destinations (May 2013 – April 2014)[80]
Rank Airport Passengers Carriers
1 New York (LaGuardia), New York 1,324,000 American, Delta, Spirit, United
2 Los Angeles, California 1,163,000 American, Spirit, United, Virgin America
3 San Francisco, California 1,088,000 American, United, Virgin America
4 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 919,000 American, Spirit, United
5 Boston, Massachusetts 876,000 American, JetBlue, Spirit, United
6 Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota 834,000 American, Delta, Spirit, United
7 Washington (Dulles), D.C. 698,000 United
8 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 675,000 American, United, US Airways
9 Denver, Colorado 670,000 American, Spirit, United
9 Atlanta, Georgia 670,000 American, Delta, United

Cargo carriers[edit]

There are two main cargo areas at O'Hare that have warehouse, build-up/tear-down and aircraft parking facilities. The Southwest Cargo Area, adjacent to Irving Park Road, accommodates over 80% of the airport's all-cargo flights, divided among 9 buildings in two tiers. The North Cargo Area, which is a modest conversion of the former military base (the 1943 Douglas plant area), also receives air freighters. It is adjacent to the northern portion of Bessie Coleman Drive.

Two satellite cargo areas have warehouse and build-up/tear down facilities, but aircraft do not park at these. Freight is trucked to/from aircraft on other ramps. The South Cargo Area is along Mannheim Road. The East Cargo Area, adjacent to Terminal 5, was formerly the airport's only cargo section but has now mostly evolved into an airport support zone.

The Southwest Cargo Area partially lies in the path of one of the new runways (10C/28C). The redevelopment of the airfield will entail moving/replacing this primary cargo hub.

Airlines Destinations
AeroUnion Mexico City
AirBridgeCargo Airlines Amsterdam, Krasnoyarsk, Moscow–Domodedovo[81]
Air China Cargo Anchorage, New York–JFK
Air France Cargo Dublin, Glasgow-Prestwick, New York–JFK, Paris–Charles de Gaulle
Asiana Cargo Anchorage, Atlanta, Detroit, Houston–Intercontinental, New York–JFK, Portland (OR), Seoul–Incheon
Atlas Air Anchorage, Miami
Cargolux Anchorage, Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Hong Kong, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Luxembourg, New York–JFK
Cathay Pacific Cargo Anchorage, New York–JFK
China Airlines Cargo Anchorage, Houston–Intercontinental, San Francisco, Seattle/Tacoma
China Cargo Airlines Anchorage, Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth
China Southern Cargo[82] Shanghai–Pudong
DHL operated by Atlas Air Cincinnati
Emirates SkyCargo[83] Copenhagen
Etihad Crystal Cargo[84] Abu Dhabi, Miami
EVA Air Cargo Anchorage, Taipei–Taoyuan
FedEx Express Fort Worth/Alliance, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, Memphis, Newark
Kalitta Air Anchorage, Khabarovsk Novy, Newark, New York–JFK
Korean Air Cargo Anchorage, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle/Tacoma, Toronto–Pearson
LOT Polish Airlines operated by Cargojet Airways Warsaw–Chopin[85]
Lufthansa Cargo Anchorage, Atlanta, Frankfurt, Guadalajara, Los Angeles, Manchester (UK), Mexico City, New York-JFK
Lufthansa Cargo operated by AeroLogic Frankfurt[86]
Nippon Cargo Airlines Anchorage, Dallas/Fort Worth, Frankfurt–Hahn, New York-JFK
Qantas Freight operated by Atlas Air Chongqing,[87] Melbourne,[88] Sydney[87]
Qatar Airways Cargo[89] Amsterdam, Doha, Los Angeles, Milan–Malpensa[90]
Singapore Airlines Cargo[91] Anchorage, Atlanta, Brussels, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles
UPS Airlines Cologne/Bonn, Columbus–Rickenbacker, Louisville, Philadelphia
World Airways Baltimore, Hong Kong, Milan
Yangtze River Express Anchorage, Shanghai–Pudong

Facilities[edit]

Runways[edit]

Runway layout at ORD

On October 17, 2013 O'Hare opened Runway 10C-28C. The opening of this eighth runway marked the completion of the Phase II expansion project. O'Hare arrivals have been reconfigured to predominately use a triple arrival scheme utilizing three of the four parallel runways.

Prior to the opening of 10C-28C, the new runway, 9L/27R which opened in November 2008, O'Hare had seven runways in three roughly-parallel sets. The longest is Runway 10L–28R, 13,001 by 150 feet (3,963 m × 46 m). Runways 9L, 10C, 10L, 14L, 14R, 27L, 27R, 28C and 28R have Category III instrument landing systems (ILS),[92] allowing trained aircrews to conduct landings with as little as 600 feet (180 m) of horizontal visibility. All other runway approaches except 4L and 32L have full Category I ILS. Runway 4L is seldom used for landings and has a localizer, the horizontal guidance component of an ILS system, but does not have a glideslope, the vertical component. Runway 32L was permanently closed to arrivals when the section south of Runway 10L/28R was closed due to 10C/28C construction.[93]

In years past, runways at O'Hare intersected each other with the exception of 4R/22L. This creates problems in inclement weather, busy times, or high winds. There have been several near-collisions at O'Hare in recent years. The redevelopment, which essentially eliminates active runway intersections, is intended to reduce collision hazards and delays.

The field started with four clustered runways; in March 1950 all were 5,500 to 5,750 feet (1,680–1,750 m) long. Runway 14 (later 14L) became 7,345 feet (2,239 m) around 1952; the 8,000-foot (2,400 m) runway 14R/32L opened in 1956 and became 11,600 feet (3,500 m) long in 1960. The 10,000-foot (3,000 m) 9R/27L (now designated 10L/28R) opened in 1968 and 14L became 10,000 feet (3,000 m) long around the same time. 4R/22L opened in 1971 and the new 9L/27R in 2008. In 2003 the fourth original runway (18/36) closed; its short length, lack of use, and placement no longer justified certification. Runway 18/36 is now taxiway M on airport charts.

The redevelopment, when completed, will remove the two northwest–southeast runways (14/32 L/R), construct four additional east–west runways (10C/28C, 10R/28L, 9L/27R, and 9C/27C), and extend the existing east–west runways (9R/27L and 10L/28R). The two existing northeast–southwest (4/22 L/R) runways will be retained. Currently, two of the four new runways have been constructed (9L/27R, 10C/28C), and one of the two extensions (10L/28R) has been completed.

In the earlier airfield layout runway 32L was often used for departures in a shortened configuration. Planes reached the runway at taxiway T10 (common) or taxiway N, formerly M (not common). This shortened the runway but allowed operations on runway 10L/28R to continue without restriction. The full length of the runway was available upon request, though with the extension of 10L/28R it was usually not needed. In May 2010 runway 14R/32L was permanently shortened to 9,685 feet (2,952 m) and it now starts at taxiway N.

O'Hare has a voluntary nighttime (2200–0700) noise abatement program.[94]

The runway reconfiguration at O'Hare will also improve the airport for the A380 Super-Jumbo aircraft. On July 5, 2007 the runway previously designated 9R/27L became runway 10/28. On May 2, 2013, that same runway (10/28) became 10L/28R. On August 30, 2007, runway 9L/27R became 9R/27L.[95]

On September 25, 2008, a 2,857-foot (871 m) extension to 10L/28R opened.[96] On May 2, 2013, airport diagrams published by the FAA depicted the runway previously designated 10/28 as 10L/28R.[97]

Runway 10C/28C was commissioned and opened for regular use on October 17, 2013.[98] On October 17, 2013, airport diagrams published by the FAA depicted the runway as open.

Intra-airport transportation[edit]

Airport Transit System with Hilton Hotel in Background

Access within the airport complex can be accomplished using O'Hare's Airport Transit System (ATS), a 2.5 mi (4 km)-long automated people mover system that operates 24 hours a day, connecting all four terminals and the remote parking lots. The system began operation on May 6, 1993,[99] and will soon experience a US$240 million enhancement to add 15 new cars, upgrade the current infrastructure, and to extend the line to a new consolidated rental car facility where lot F is currently situated.[100]

Other facilities[edit]

Nippon Cargo Airlines has its Americas regional office on the O'Hare property.[101]

A large air cargo complex on the southwest side of the field was opened in 1984, replacing most of the old cargo area, which stood where Terminal 5 now exists. This complex sits right in the middle of the footprint for new runway 10C/28C, and is to be replaced by a new facility located on the northeastern portion of the airfield.[102]

The new North Terminal Air Traffic Control Tower was completed in September 2008 and commissioned for use on November 20, 2008.[103] The new tower was designed by DMJM Aviation-Holmes & Narver Aviation Partners JV (design principal Jose Luis Palacios).[104]

The USO has a facility in Terminal 2 for the use of military personnel arriving or departing, as well as military recruits going to Recruit Training Command, which has a booth at O'Hare to coordinate transportation to Naval Station Great Lakes for Naval recruits arriving via airplane.[105]

Ground transportation[edit]

CTA Blue Line station at O'Hare International Airport

Rail[edit]

Blue Line[edit]

Main article: O'Hare (CTA station)

Trains from the Blue Line of the Chicago Transit Authority's 'L' terminate at the airport from an underground station, accessible by pedestrian tunnels from Terminals 1, 2, and 3. The station opened on September 3, 1984. Trains run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, providing connection via downtown Chicago to Forest Park.[106]

Metra[edit]

Commuter trains from the Metra North Central Service stop at the O'Hare Transfer station, which is connected to the Airport Transit System via a shuttle bus.

Car[edit]

Road vehicles enter and exit via I-190, which branches off I-90 (the Kennedy Expressway) leading to downtown Chicago. Cars may also access the airport locally from Mannheim Road, the airport's eastern boundary. Aside from cargo access on its south side, all airport traffic travels through the east side of the airport. Local residents sometimes refer to I-190 as "the world's busiest Cul-de-sac" as a result of the one way access.

Taxi[edit]

Taxi and Limo Services also provide transportation to/from Chicago O'Hare Airport. Fares vary based on traffic, average fares from O'Hare to downtown Chicago are $30–$40.[107]

Bus[edit]

Regional buses, taking passengers to Indiana, Iowa, and Wisconsin arrive and depart from the Bus / Shuttle Center.[108] It is located on the ground level of the Main Parking Garage, accessible by pedestrian tunnels from Terminals 1, 2, and 3.

Cell Phone Lot[edit]

A cell phone lot can be reached via the North Mannheim Road exit off the I-190. Signs direct drivers to the Economy Parking Lot F/Cell Phone Lot. An information display provides arrival time updates.

Statistics[edit]

Traffic by calendar year
Passenger volume Change over previous year Aircraft operations Cargo tonnage
2000 72,144,244 Decrease00.64% 908,989 1,640,524.1
2001 67,448,064 Decrease06.51% 911,917 1,413,834.4
2002 66,565,952 Decrease01.31% 922,817 1,436,385.7
2003 69,508,672 Increase04.40% 928,691 1,601,735.5
2004 75,533,822 Increase08.67% 992,427 1,685,808.0
2005 76,581,146 Increase01.38% 972,248 1,701,446.1
2006 76,282,212 Decrease00.30% 958,643 1,718,011.0
2007 76,182,025 Decrease00.15% 926,973 1,690,741.6
2008 70,819,015 Decrease07.03% 881,566 1,480,847.4
2009 64,397,782 Decrease09.07% 827,899 1,198,426.3
2010 67,026,191 Increase03.83% 882,617 1,577,047.8
2011 66,790,996 Decrease00.35% 878,798 1,505,217.6
2012 66,834,931 Increase00.04% 878,108 1,443,568.7
2013 66,909,638 Increase00.12% 883,287 1,434,377.1
Source: O'Hare International Airport[3]

Modernization plan[edit]

O'Hare's high volume and crowded schedule can lead to long delays and cancellations that, due to the airport being a major hub, can have a ripple effect on air travel across North America. Official reports rank O'Hare as one of the least punctual airports in the United States based on percentage of delayed flights.[109] In 2004, United Airlines and American Airlines agreed to modify their flight schedules to help reduce congestion caused by clustered arrivals and departures. Because of the air traffic departing, arriving, and near the airport, air traffic controllers at O'Hare and its nearby facilities are among the leaders in the world in terms of number of controlled flights handled per hour.

City management has committed to a $6 billion capital investment plan to increase the airport's capacity by 60% and decrease delays by an estimated 79 percent.[110] This plan was approved by the FAA in October 2005 and will involve a reconfiguration of the airfield and addition of terminal space. The plan includes the addition of four runways, the lengthening of two existing runways, and the decommissioning of two existing runways in order to give the airfield six parallel runways in a configuration similar to that used at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, and other large modern hub airports. This plan was very controversial as the added improvements, at the time they were proposed, were expected to increase the airport's air traffic capacity only slightly, given existing FAA rules. Additionally, the southernmost new runway would require the city acquire additional land, which was extremely controversial as residents did not want to move.

The Modernization Plan is now being implemented; an additional runway and Air Traffic Control Tower were commissioned on November 20, 2008. The new north runway, designated 9L/27R, initially served as a foul weather arrival runway, addressing one of O'Hare's primary causes of delays, but now serves as one of three runways that can be used simultaneously for landings. An extension of Runway 10L/28R (formerly 10/28, and prior to that 9R/27L) to 13,001 feet (3,963 m) was commissioned for use on September 25, 2008,[103] facilitating the shortening and eventual closure of the 13,000 feet (4,000 m) Runway 14R/32L. At the same time, the FAA redesigned departure routes for both O'Hare and Chicago Midway International Airport, increasing the number from three shared by both airports to five from each airport. With the new runway's opening, O'Hare's maximum aircraft arrival capacity increased from 96 planes per hour to 112 planes per hour; United Airlines's senior vice president of operations, Joseph Kolshak, told The Wall Street Journal that within a month of the runway's opening, "they were consistently hitting that."[111]

As part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's $7.3 billion infrastructure modernization plan, announced in March 2012, the airport would receive an additional $1.4 billion over three years to hasten the completion of the modernization effort.[112] The plan calls for accelerated completion of the fourth and final new runway as well as resumed negotiations with the airport's major airlines in an effort to boost O'Hare's overall capacity by 300,000 passengers per year by 2015.[113]

The modernization plan has required the acquisition of 126 acres (51 ha) of land in Des Plaines, Illinois; construction of runway 27R and the control tower cost $457 million and involved the rerouting of a creek and 14,000,000 cubic yards (11,000,000 m3) of fill to build up an embankment.."[111] 2,800 residents had to be relocated, as well as a cemetery with 900 known graves. The program ultimately is expected to expand the airport's capacity to over 3,800 operations per day, up from the present capacity of 2,700, and will vastly increase passenger throughput. It will also improve the ability of very large aircraft such as the Airbus A380 to operate.[114]

Flight caps in place since 2004 expired on October 31, 2008. American Airlines eliminated over 60 daily flights at O'Hare because of rising fuel prices. United announced similar cutbacks. Recent worldwide economic difficulties further complicate the forecasts for airport demand.[115]

After initially opposing the Modernization plan, DuPage County has endorsed the plan citing the creation of jobs, commercial development, and the ability of O'Hare to regain the status as busiest airport.[116]

  existing runway
  new runway
  removed runway

Resistance and alternatives[edit]

The neighboring communities of Bensenville and Elk Grove Village have been centers of resistance to the expansion plan, due to their proximity to the airport and because some of their residents and businesses would be required to relocate. Bensenville and Elk Grove Village formed the Suburban O'Hare Commission[117] to fight the expansion. So far, they have not had much success. The commission did receive a temporary injunction against portions of the city's expansion project; however, it was soon overturned. The Suburban O'Hare Commission has also been instrumental in pushing for a third regional airport in south suburban Peotone, which it claims would alleviate congestion at O'Hare. However, no airline has committed to the proposed airport, and planning efforts moved very slowly during 2007–08. In 2008, Elk Grove Village ended resistance. They received assurance that a proposed highway would not be built through their business park. In November 2009, Bensenville officially ended all resistance to the expansion, ceasing all legal challenges against the city of Chicago. They received a one-time $16-million payment from Chicago.[118] The city of Chicago also faced a five-year court battle to acquire a small, historical cemetery located within the space of their planned runway expansion. A settlement was finally reached in December 2012, between St. John United Church of Christ in Bensenville and the city of Chicago. The city agreed to pay the church $1.3 million for the 5-acre (2.0 ha) parcel on the west side of the airport, which included a 2-acre (0.81 ha) burial ground established by the church in 1849. All told, 1,494 bodies were disinterred from the St. Johannes Cemetery and reburied at various cemeteries throughout the region.[119]

In 1995, the Chicago/Gary Airport Compact was signed by the cities of Chicago and Gary, Indiana, creating a new administration for the Gary/Chicago International Airport just across the state line. While markedly smaller than the proposed Peotone site, this airport already has more land and a longer main runway than Midway Airport. Gary is also many miles closer than Peotone to downtown Chicago. In addition public transportation is already in place to the Loop via the South Shore Line. Indiana and the FAA have provided significant funding for a Gary runway expansion, currently under construction. However, the issue here is a large portion of the revenue that is generated would go to the state of Indiana as opposed to Chicago and the state of Illinois, the very entities the airport would mainly serve.

Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) in Rockford, Illinois has also marketed itself as an alternative for congestion at O'Hare. However, it is at least a 1-1/2-hour trip to Rockford from the Chicago Loop. Currently there is no direct transportation service from downtown Chicago or O'Hare to Rockford airport, but airline service at the airport continues to grow. Larry Morrissey, the current mayor of Rockford, has pushed for a high-speed rail connection between the two airports to make the Rockford airport a more convenient alternative to O'Hare.

General Mitchell International Airport (MKE) in Milwaukee has consistently attempted to increase its usage by Chicago and Northern Illinois customers. There is a direct Amtrak rail service connecting Chicago with Mitchell Airport. The trains operate seven round trips each day, taking under 75 minutes from the Chicago loop.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

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