Investors Circling Around Midway Airport

April 2, 2008

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Chicago's effort to privatize Midway Airport is attracting several financial heavy-weights.

Six groups yesterday publicly declared they're bidding on Midway airport. They include big-name investors like John Hancock insurance and Morgan Stanley. Five of the groups also include airport management firms that operate overseas. Those companies own or run airports in Australia, Europe, Canada, the Caribbean and the Middle East.

Midway's privatization effort isn't the first in the nation, but it would be the most complex and costly. Technically, it could turn out to be a very long lease—of at least fifty years; but in return for at least $2 billion, a winning bidder would control parking, food, and other consumer amenities. A winner would also collect airline fees.

The City of Chicago hopes to pay down debt on Midway airport. It could then spend the rest on pensions and public works projects. It hopes to select a final bidder within a year.

I'm Shawn Allee, Chicago Public Radio.