WBEZ | Gary airport http://www.wbez.org/tags/gary-airport Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Gary Airport’s private partnership readies for takeoff http://www.wbez.org/news/gary-airport%E2%80%99s-private-partnership-readies-takeoff-109333 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Gary Airport.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">It&rsquo;s been nearly a year since the Gary Chicago Airport Authority announced it was seeking private dollars to give a boost to its struggling airport.</p><p dir="ltr">On Monday, the airport appeared to be one step closer to making that plan a reality.</p><p dir="ltr">At the authority&rsquo;s regular meeting, it said Aviation Facilities Company, Inc. was seeking to invest $100 million over the next 40 years in a public-private partnership with the airport.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Public ownership and private investment are the cornerstones of these proposed agreements,&rdquo; said Carrie Hightman, chair of the P3 Ad Hoc Committee, which was put together by the airport authority to seek proposal from private firms.</p><p dir="ltr">Based in Northern Virginia, Aviation Facilities Company, also known as AFCO, is an industry leading airport management firm with more than 80 years of experience. Investment partners in the deal include Guggenheim Securities and Loop Capital, both with operations in Chicago.</p><p dir="ltr">The proposal calls for a 30 percent goal of local participation, 20 percent for disadvantaged and minority-owned businesses, as well as 5 percent for women and veteran-owned businesses. One other key provision requires $25 million to be spent within the first 36 months of the agreement or the deal can be dissolved.</p><p dir="ltr">Hightman, who once served as president of SBC Illinois (now AT&amp;T), is currently executive vice president and chief legal officer for Merrillville, Indiana-based energy company NiSource Inc.</p><p dir="ltr">Hightman says AFCO understood Gary&rsquo;s needs, which is why it won its recommendation.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;They understood the things that were important to us and Northwest Indiana such as local jobs, such as minority participation, such as increasing the tax base, such as creating a plan that would make this airport sustainable and profitable,&rdquo; Hightman said.</p><p dir="ltr">Although it aspires to be the Chicago metro area&rsquo;s third major airport, the Gary airport has struggled of late. It currently has no commercial passenger service. Its last carrier, Allegiant Air, flew its last flight to Orlando, Florida from Gary in September after a one-year run. The airport is home to charter and private jet services, as well as the corporate fleet for Boeing Corp., and the Indiana National Guard.</p><p dir="ltr">Gary airport authority board chair Thomas Collins gave no indication as to when the board will make a final decision.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think the information that was presented will be considered by the board and thoroughly reviewed. The entire board just hasn&rsquo;t had enough time to study and digest this. We would like a little time to review this and get back to everybody with the results,&rdquo; Collins said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t have a time frame.&rdquo;</p><p>The airport is still undergoing a $166 million expansion of its primary runway. Although the Federal Aviation Administration originally said it wanted the project done in December of this year, Gary received an extension to deal with issues related to pollution cleanup near the site. The airport is also in negotiation with the Canadian National Railway company to move tracks that travel right in the path of the new runway.</p></p> Mon, 09 Dec 2013 16:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/gary-airport%E2%80%99s-private-partnership-readies-takeoff-109333 Gary mayor still believes airport can fly http://www.wbez.org/news/gary-mayor-still-believes-airport-can-fly-108002 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Gary airport .JPG" alt="" /><p><p>There are still deals to be had if you want to fly from Chicago to Orlando on the cheap this summer. But you better hurry.</p><p>Allegiant Airlines&rsquo; flights from the Gary Chicago International Airport to the home of Disney will end by mid-August, leaving Gary once again without a commercial passenger airline.</p><p>And if that wasn&rsquo;t enough bad news for the struggling airport, a long awaited $166 million project to extend the main runway has been stranded at the gate. Slated to be done by December, the project may not be completed until fall 2014 at the earliest.&nbsp;That&rsquo;s because some lingering industrial contamination at the site will need a larger cleanup effort than first realized.</p><p>But Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson isn&rsquo;t ready to admit defeat just yet.</p><p>&ldquo;Am I dejected or distraught over the fact that we are seeing a delay in the process? No, it just makes me that much more determined to see it to its completion,&rdquo; Freeman-Wilson told WBEZ today. &ldquo;We have every reason to know it&rsquo;s going to get done. It just won&rsquo;t get done when we originally said it will get done. That&rsquo;s probably the most frustrating part for me.&rdquo;</p><p>Freeman-Wilson announced last week that the ground contamination in the path of the runway expansion is worse than anticipated. The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, a state-backed agency, and the Federal Aviation Administration are the primary funders of the $166 million project to extend the airport&rsquo;s main 7,000-foot runway by 1,900 feet.</p><p>Wilson says the city and northwestern Indiana have heavy industrial legacies that carry sensitive and unexpected environmental issues that must be resolved. She says the city and the airport are working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Indiana Department of Environmental on remediation strategies.</p><p>The logic behind extending the main runway is to allow larger jets to take off and land at the Gary airport, which would put it in a better position to attract major airlines. Despite losing Allegiant and the runway expansion delay, Freeman-Wilson says it hasn&rsquo;t dampened the enthusiasm to privatize the airport. On Tuesday, a committee was continuing to review proposals submitted by eight firms to run the airport in a public-private partnership with the city.</p><p>&ldquo;The importance of this is not just the airport territory that we&rsquo;re really focusing on, it&rsquo;s the airport and surrounding community,&rdquo; Freeman-Wilson said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s why I think people are really interested and excited about investing.&rdquo;</p><p>John Clark, the former CEO of the Indianapolis Airport Authority, has been hired to oversee Gary&rsquo;s privatization efforts. At a rate of $245 an hour, Clark will also oversee the runway expansion and develop a business plan. Gary&rsquo;s airport board is also considering borrowing up to $35 million to help complete expansion of the airport&rsquo;s runway. That money will be paid back from part of the $166 million that the city will receive from the FAA in 2015.</p><p>Still, Freeman-Wilson knows there are those who doubt that the Gary Chicago Airport will ever really fly.&nbsp;But she says, plans are moving forward, even if people are unaware of it.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve made more progress in the last year than was made in the last 10 years,&rdquo; Freeman Wilson said. &ldquo;If they drive by the Gary airport, they will see a new runway coming out of the pavement.&rdquo;</p><p>The Gary Chicago airport continues to host private charter service, the the corporate jet fleet for Boeing Corporation, as well as being home to an Indiana National Guard post. The City of Chicago also remains a critical partner in Gary airport&rsquo;s future. The city provides up to $3 million a year to Gary that comes directly from passenger fees for those flying out of Midway or O&rsquo;Hare airports.</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ&rsquo;s Northwest Indiana reporter Michael Puente on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews">@MikePuenteNews</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 09 Jul 2013 16:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/gary-mayor-still-believes-airport-can-fly-108002 Gary Airport loses only passenger airline http://www.wbez.org/news/gary-airport-loses-only-passenger-airline-107402 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Gary Airport_130528_MP.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The only passenger airline flying out of Gary, Indiana will end service this summer.&nbsp;</p><div>Allegiant Airline starting flying out of the Gary-Chicago International Airport 15 months ago to much fanfare.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson was on hand to see the first flight take off, along with a host of other local politicians and dignitaries.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The contract with Allegiant was seen as a sign that the Gary airport could be a serious player in the sweepstakes to become the Chicago area&rsquo;s third major airport. But now, the Las Vegas-based airline says it will stop its twice-a-week route to Orlando, Florida by August 10th.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Allegiant informed the airport in a letter earlier this month. In a statement, the airline cited a lack of strong demand for the flights.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The airline will end its run by offering $70 one-way tickets to Sanford, Florida, outside of Orlando, beginning in June. Allegiant Air says it&rsquo;s open to flying out of Gary again in the future, but as of now, the service doesn&rsquo;t meet its revenue model.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Allegiant Air joins a growing list of airlines that have come and gone at the Gary airport. Other notable failures were a re-booted Pan Am Airlines, and the notorious Hooters Airline which both ended flights around a decade ago.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The difference being that not long after ending passenger service from Gary, those airlines ceased operations entirely. That&rsquo;s not likely to be the case for Allegiant Air, which still flies to a number of destinations.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Gary airport authority board chair Nathaniel Williams says the ending of the service had more to do with Allegiant Air than with Gary.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;They have a history of doing this in other cities,&rdquo; Williams said Tuesday morning at the board&rsquo;s regular meeting. &ldquo;We offered them great service here.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Williams says for now they want to concentrate on completing a multimillion dollar upgrade before year&rsquo;s end -- or risk losing FAA funding for it.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Our initial project is to try to extend that runway,&rdquo; Williams told WBEZ. &ldquo;So, what we&rsquo;re trying to do is get underway with it and make sure that&rsquo;s solid before we start our business development.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Williams says once the effort to extend its main runway is complete, he&rsquo;s confident the airport will be able to attract larger passenger jets and airlines. But Williams admits the effort to persuade several railroad companies to move rail tracks that are in the way of the new runway has been difficult.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;We just have a little snag in the road right now,&rdquo; Williams said.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The airport will also soon seek proposals to take the airport private. Board member David Bochnowski, who is a well known bank president in Northwest Indiana, says inquiries have been strong.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I believe a public-private partnership makes sense but we&rsquo;re going to let the market tell us,&rdquo; Bochnowski said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve had interest come as far away as London.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Corporate and private charter jet service continues at the airport.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Michael Puente is WBEZ&rsquo;s Northwest Indiana Bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews">@MikePuenteNews</a></em></div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Tue, 28 May 2013 16:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/gary-airport-loses-only-passenger-airline-107402 Jackson on Peotone groundbreaking: ‘Bring your own shovel’ http://www.wbez.org/story/jackson-peotone-groundbreaking-%E2%80%98bring-your-own-shovel%E2%80%99-97782 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-March/2012-03-30/RS5195_Petone 1a-scr.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>There are many types of ground-breakings. There are the unceremonious ones with no politicians in sight, and there are others where politicians line up to synchronize their shovel-holding for watching cameras. And then there’s the kind that Jesse Jackson Jr. wants to have on April 21. This one, which Jackson calls a “people’s groundbreaking,” is a symbolic move to regain traction on his drive for an airport in Peotone.</p><p>Jackson has spent years trying to transform a farm in Will County into a massive national airport named after President Abraham Lincoln, and he hopes some showmanship will break a political logjam.</p><p>“We will be there symbolically maybe with dozens — maybe even with a couple of hundred — people who agree that it’s time for us to move forward on this project,” Jackson said.</p><p>Politically speaking, Jackson is feeling confident and it may be as good a time as any for him to revive the long-standing airport issue. He handily won this month’s Democratic primary in Illinois’ 2nd Congressional District, an area that was redistricted recently and includes the site for the proposed airport.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-30/RS5196_AP120320153840.jpg" style="float: left; width: 253px; height: 350px; " title=""></p><p>Jackson points out that the state of Illinois already bought more than 2,000 acres of land for the project, and, he claims, he’s nearly finished with lining up private financing.</p><p>Jackson says with some political will, the jobs and economic growth should start soon.</p><p>“For the first time the global economy will be on the South Side of Chicago and the South Side of Chicago will have access to the global economy and that’s where the jobs are,” Jackson said. “Right now, the global economy is out by O’Hare and beyond. And so these are the hopes and dreams of a region.”</p><p><strong>Would groundbreaking end political fight or rekindle it?&nbsp;</strong></p><p>From another vantage, Jackson seems to be jumping the gun with his “people’s groundbreaking.” The federal government hasn’t approved a new airport for Peotone and it might not weigh in for at least two years.</p><p>And, it’s not clear where things stand politically. If Will County’s own politicians have any say, the airport will come later — much later.</p><p>“This idea of coming in and having a groundbreaking I think is just disrespect to the citizens of eastern Will County. It’s disrespectful to the municipalities out there,” said Will County Executive Larry Walsh. He especially scoffs at Jackson’s claim that construction could start soon, maybe even by June.</p><p>“You know, making those kinds of statements is just irresponsible,” he said. “Nobody is going to begin construction of an airport.”</p><p>Walsh also points out that the Federal Aviation Administration hasn’t officially ruled on the question of whether the area actually needs a new airport.</p><p>Still, the paramount issue is one of control: Walsh wants state lawmakers to authorize an airport board made up of people primarily from Will County itself. Jackson’s plan includes outsiders, including representatives from Cook and Kankakee counties.</p><p>“Our Will County residents are going to be the ones most affected by this,” Walsh said. “Their quality of life is going to change. Some of these people, their families have been around here for a 150 years, and I have a responsibility to represent them in their quality of life for the development of this airport.”</p><p>So, where is Springfield in all of this?</p><p>The state of Illinois has been behind a Peotone airport for years, but the pace has been glacial, with progress coming in fits and starts. Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn is offering major moral support.</p><p>“We have a metropolitan area of Chicago that’s an underserved area of the south. Having an airport in Peotone is important and we shouldn’t forget it,” Gov. Quinn said.</p><p>But Quinn’s statements don’t come with concrete, financial backing, and there’s a new wrinkle in the discussion about regional airports. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is now pushing plans for a fourth runway at O’Hare, which is already expanding. The proposal, which Emanuel laid out earlier this week, is to boost O’Hare’s capacity by 300-thousand passengers and reduce delays by 80 percent. The mayor argued that expanding O’Hare would be cheaper than the other alternatives. Not so with Peotone.</p><p>“I’m opposed to it,” he said. “That’s why I want to make sure that O’Hare is modernized.”</p><p><strong>How big could it really be?</strong></p><p>One thing that hasn’t come up so far is whether Jackson’s vision of a mammoth airport is realistic. Airlines are experiencing rapidly increasing fuel costs, and they’ve already questioned whether there’s enough demand at O’Hare and Midway, let alone Peotone. Plus, there’s another airport in Gary, Ind., that’s already running. It, like O’Hare, is already undergoing expansion.</p><p>All of this has Dr. Joseph Schwieterman of DePaul University questioning how much more airport capacity we need.</p><p>“There’s just no question that Peotone and Gary are really fighting for part of the same piece of pie and probably both can’t succeed,” Schwieterman said. “The market’s just too tough. Southwest expanding, Milwaukee and O’Hare’s being enlarged. There just isn’t enough market to go around for everything.”</p><p>But all those things don’t necessarily knock Peotone out of the airport sweepstakes. Schwieterman says a massive airport in Peotone might be out of the works, but, “the good news for Peotone is a micro small airport is in the realm of possibility, something very small: one runway, a couple of gates.”</p><p>Rep. Jackson is not buying the idea that Peotone should shoot for a small project, and he’s more than willing to draw out some heavy rhetoric for his cause.</p><p>“A generation ago there were those who blocked schoolhouse doors to stop progress. You really can’t stop progress,” Jackson said. “It doesn’t work. History is replete with figures who stood in the way of social, political and economic progress and that’s exactly what this airport represents.”</p><p>Jackson said he’s undeterred, and invites everyone to come to Peotone for his so-called people’s groundbreaking on April 21. He does say, though, that people should bring their own shovels.</p></p> Fri, 30 Mar 2012 22:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/jackson-peotone-groundbreaking-%E2%80%98bring-your-own-shovel%E2%80%99-97782 Gary Chicago Airport facing expansion delays http://www.wbez.org/story/gary-chicago-airport-facing-expansion-delays-91949 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-14/Gary Chicago Airport_Flickr_Eric Alix Rogers.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A lack of cooperation from several railroads is slowing the expansion at the Gary Chicago International Airport in Gary, Indiana. &nbsp;And, that’s bad news since the airport is on a tight schedule.</p><p>The airport needs to extend its main runway within the 2 ½ years or it could lose more than $150 million from the Federal Aviation Administration.</p><p>Extending the runway is seen as a key to the airport landing a commercial airliner and larger cargo airplanes. &nbsp;But to extend the runway by nearly 2,000, several railroad tracks need to be removed or realigned. That’s proven tough to do.</p><p>Railroad companies such as CN, CSX and Norfolk Southern have been resisting some of the airport’s plans for realigning the tracks. Work started last May and needs to be completed by December 2013.</p><p>Gary Chicago airport board member Ross Amundson says while he doesn’t think the project is in jeopardy, he does believe the pace of work needs to pick up considerably.</p><p>“Railroads are tough to deal with. I think part of our issue is just getting the attention of the decision makers,” Amundson told WBEZ on Tuesday. “We just can’t get decisions done in a timely manner that we need them done in to stay on our schedule.”</p><p>Amundson says the airport will seek assistance from Northwest Indiana’s congressman, U.S. Rep. Peter J. Visclosky (D-Indiana), to help move things along quicker.</p></p> Tue, 13 Sep 2011 23:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/gary-chicago-airport-facing-expansion-delays-91949 A bird's-eye view of airports in Emanuel's Chicago http://www.wbez.org/story/birds-eye-view-airports-emanuels-chicago-90942 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-23/airplane.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We’re taking stock of what’s new in Rahm Emanuel's administration as well as what's been moving along as usual. Since Chicago’s election, news about city airports has been a mixed bag of old problems and new opportunities. We give a birds-eye view of what’s happening with airports in Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago.</p><p>Let’s start at O’Hare, Chicago's flagship airport and one the world’s busiest. How’s Rahm Emanuel dealt with that in the past 100 days?</p><p>SCHWIETERMAN: He’s really come in with, everything gets looked at again.</p><p>This is Joseph Schwieterman, a transportation professor at DePaul University. Schwieterman says Emanuel looked at the smaller stuff at O’Hare - like a politically-charged concessions contract, as well as the biggest: the 15-billion dollar expansion. Schwieterman says when it came to O’Hare expansion, the new mayor got on board quickly.</p><p>SCHWIETERMAN: The O’Hare project has progressed so far now that I think there’s a general sense that there’s no turning back.</p><p>Having said we thought even three months ago that this was going to be the big summer for airline travel. &nbsp;That’s not happening.</p><p>ANDOLINO: We need to not live in just today but we need to be prepared for the future.</p><p>That’s Rosemarie Andolino, Commissioner of the city’s Department of Aviation.</p><p>ANDOLINO: We want to continue to be an airport, a global airport, bringing commerce here to our state. And it is our economic engine. I think everybody realizes that.</p><p>Commissioner Andolino’s one of the few holdovers from Mayor Daley’s administration.&nbsp;She says Rahm Emanuel is not slowing things down.</p><p>ANDOLINO: In terms of aviation, I think the commitment continues to be just as great. Again, creating jobs, bettering the customers’ experience, enhancing the customers’ experience is a leading desire for Mayor Emanuel that we continue to do here.</p><p>It’s not clear, though, whether all the airlines at O’Hare can stay on board with the project without fighting City Hall over costs and benefits.</p><p>Now, to the Southwest Side of Chicago.&nbsp;That’s where Midway Airport is nestled among bungalow houses and rail yards.&nbsp;Chicago’s been trying to hold onto and expand O’Hare, but Midway?&nbsp;The city’s trying to lease it out. In fact, it almost did lease out Midway two years ago, but the $2.5 billion deal fell through.&nbsp;Rosemarie Andolino says Rahm Emanuel is still thinking about it.</p><p>ANDOLINO: Right now, the administration is keeping all of its options open. There are pros and cons to everything. And so, we’ll just have to see with a little more time to see how things play out and what’s best for Chicago.</p><p>Now, Midway and O’Hare are technically in the city, but you may not know there’s a third Chicago airport.&nbsp;It's called Gary-Chicago International Airport and it’s right across the Indiana state line in Gary.&nbsp;It’s small, and it doesn’t have a passenger airline yet.&nbsp;So, it’s little wonder that Mayor Richard Daley didn’t talk much about Gary-Chicago, and Rahm Emanuel hasn’t, either.&nbsp;That’s had people in Indiana worry that Rahm Emanuel would pull Chicago out. Here’s Gary-Chicago airport board member Ross Amundson.</p><p>AMUNDSON: Certainly that’s a question you ask any time somebody new comes to the table. We’ve seen nothing that would indicate that continued relationship and trust isn’t going to continue.</p><p>Chicago aviation chief Rosemarie Andolino says no one needs to worry.&nbsp;When it comes to airports, Chicago’s got Gary’s back.</p><p>ANDOLINO: It’s almost like a big brother, little brother kind of relationship. Or, big sister I should say.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel hasn’t talked all that much about airports during his administration.&nbsp;But Andolino says he’ll change that soon.&nbsp;He plans to host an aviation summit with industry leaders this fall.</p></p> Wed, 24 Aug 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/birds-eye-view-airports-emanuels-chicago-90942 Gary airport hoping to get off the ground http://www.wbez.org/story/gary-airport-hoping-get-ground-86997 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-24/Gary 1.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Work begins Wednesday on a&nbsp; $153 million expansion at the Gary Chicago International Airport.</p><p>Officials hope this project, once completed, will be the one that finally kick starts success at the airport. The work will include relocating railroad tracks and dismantling a railroad track embankment.</p><p>That will allow the airport to add 1,900 feet to its main runway. Extending the runway will allow larger airplanes to land.</p><p>Airport interim director Steve Landry said, "This project has been on the drawing board for quite a while. We’ve made a lot of progress lately and moving forward. What the airport means to the city of Gary and the region as far as potential and fulfilling that potential, it’s a very exciting time. "</p><p>Officials will kick off the work with a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday at the airport.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 25 May 2011 04:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/gary-airport-hoping-get-ground-86997