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Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

American, United reach agreement with City of Chicago on $8.5 billion O’Hare Airport overhaul

Jack Strilky
United and American airlines join together in an $8.5 billion agreement to add an addition onto O’Hare airport located in Chicago.

Passengers at O’Hare Airport will encounter some notable changes to the facility beginning May 10.

American Airlines and United Airlines, announced support for extensive renovations at O’Hare International Airport, allowing a major rebuilding project to proceed, weeks after Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson made key revisions to the construction schedule.

American and United, the airport’s largest carriers, signed off on the Terminal Area Project after the city proposed changing the order of construction on the new Global Terminal and nearby satellite concourses. In a reversal of previous plans, work on the new terminal, which is slated to replace Terminal 2, will be accelerated, while the construction of two satellite concourses will be delayed.

Both airlines previously pushed back against rising construction costs as they sought to ensure the new terminal wasn’t threatened by future budget issues. Surrounded by tensions between different entities, Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, as well as several members of Illinois’ Congressional Delegation, sent a letter to the Department of Transportation (DOT) in Dec. 2023. They requested that the DOT intervene and “facilitate a path forward between and convene all O’Hare stakeholders.”

Durbin and Duckworth issued a joint statement on May 10, expressing relief over the agreement.

American and United announced support for an $8.5 billion renovation of O’Hare, including the addition of a state-of-the-art Global Terminal, back in 2018. In early 2023, O’Hare celebrated the grand opening of an eastern extension of Terminal 5, the airport’s largest terminal project since that terminal’s construction in 1993.

Most recently, a groundbreaking ceremony took place on the three-year, $300 million upgrade of Terminal 3 in April.

The completion date of the overall project, largely funded by city bonds from airline fees, was pushed back several years as a result of skyrocketing construction costs. The expansion is set to be finished in 2032, not 2026 as originally planned.

Touted as “one of the largest and most cutting-edge airport facilities in America,” the new $2.2 billion Global Terminal will more than double the space of the existing Terminal 2, according to a website based on the project. The terminal will host both international and domestic arrival gates, state-of-the-art baggage systems, as well as brand new immigration and customs facilities, among other features.

According to lawmakers, the agreement announced on May 10 will help expand O’Hare’s gate capacity by 25 percent, enabling the airport to accommodate a wider range of aircraft, improve gate access for arriving aircraft, and reduce delays.

I try to avoid O’Hare at all costs. The development will increase traffic and create more jams, as this may influence customers to fly through O’Hare. It sounds great, but it will cause more chaos.

— Andre Shaw, Special Education teacher

“I try to avoid O’Hare at all costs,” Special Education teacher Andre Shaw said. “The development will increase traffic and create more jams, as this may influence customers to fly through O’Hare. It sounds great, but it will cause more chaos.”

The partnership between United Airlines, American Airlines, and the City of Chicago to undertake an $8.5 billion overhaul of O’Hare International Airport marks a significant milestone in aviation history. This ambitious project not only promises to modernize one of the busiest airports in the world but also underscores the collaborative spirit and forward-thinking approach of both the airlines and the city government. As the revamped O’Hare emerges, it will not only enhance the travel experience for millions of passengers but also serve as a testament to what can be achieved through strategic partnerships and innovative planning in the aviation industry.

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About the Contributor
Jack Strilky
Jack Strilky, Asst. News Editor
Jack Strilky is a sophomore at Niles North High School who enjoys reading in his free time. He also enjoys running outdoors.

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    Liz MceneryMay 18, 2024 at 10:33 am

    Interesting article— O’Hare is like a mini- city and offers many jobs ahead for its construction project.