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City OKs $1 billion for O'Hare mega-project
By Marni Pyke | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 9/9/2010 12:00 AM

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Chicago is poised to take out a $1 billion loan to continue with the modernization of O'Hare International Airport but it seems unlikely this comes with the blessing of the major carriers.

American and United Airlines officials were muted in their comments Wednesday after the Chicago City Council approved selling the bonds.

"We continue to be in discussions with the city to reach a financially responsible plan to improve O'Hare," United spokesman Mike Trevino said. American had no comment.

The city's plan to create parallel runways, build a western terminal and move Irving Park Road to make way for the expansion is getting close to the halfway mark.

But United and American while historically supportive of the new runway layout are balking at the western terminal, arguing it's unnecessary especially now with the weak economy.

The airlines also objected to increases in rent and landing fees instituted this year to pay construction debt.

Department of Aviation Commission Rosemarie Andolino extended an olive branch in April inviting both carriers back to the bargaining table, saying the city could modify its new rates if all sides reached a funding deal for the final phase of modernization. But there's no word yet of any resolution.

City aldermen approved the bond sale with little comment aside from questioning how the loan will be repaid.

Officials said fees on tickets and revenues from airport operations will fund the debt. The loan is due to be repaid by 2050.