Daley sounds off on airlines and expanding O'Hare Airport

January 31, 2011

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(WBEZ/Tony Arnold)
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley talks to reporters about how negotiations are going over expanding O'Hare Airport

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is shedding some light on the backroom negotiations over how to pay for further expansion of O'Hare International Airport.

Daley is hoping airlines like United and American will help foot the bill for the next phase of the O'Hare Modernization Program. But those airlines have balked, even going so far as to sue the city to get the courts to stop the expansion.

Illinois' two U.S. senators are trying to moderate discussions between the two sides, but Daley said Monday the airlines proposed putting off the modernization program until 2019 and that's not acceptable.

"When they said 2019, just unbelievable," Daley said. "Where are we now today? This is 2011. 2019? They said then, maybe you can apply for runways. 2019? Then it takes how many years to get the permits? 2023 or 2024? In the meantime, every airport is expanding."

Daley said he's planning to meet with the CEOs of United and American on Thursday. A spokesman for United Airlines says there's not enough demand to expand O'Hare right now.