Three months in the past, American Airways was accusing Mayor Rahm Emanuel of favoring its archrival by awarding hometown United Airways 5 further gates.
American Airways was alone amongst airways in objecting to a brand new lease settlement — threatening authorized motion that would have grounded Emanuel’s huge O’Hare Airport enlargement challenge — solely to signal on after town made a hazy promise to hurry development of three common-use gates that favor American.
On Friday, Emanuel and American CEO Doug Parker joked about that political turbulence as they formally opened the primary new gates at O’Hare in 25 years.
“I believe I can communicate for Doug, who I’ve recognized for years. I don’t assume a month in the past he would have predicted that the 2 of us could be standing right here collectively,” the mayor mentioned because the movers-and-shakers assembled at O’Hare laughed out loud.
Emanuel known as Parker a “powerful negotiator,” whom he “respects immensely” as a result of he’s the identical means.
“I need to thank Doug for his powerful negotiations. For interrupting a number of household dinners appropriately, saying, ‘I’d identical to to have a couple of phrases with you.’ Thirty minutes later, [I was saying], ‘Doug, I’d prefer to get a phrase in edgewise,’” the mayor mentioned.
“However when he sees a objective line, this can be a man who drives in direction of it.”
Parker picked up on the comedy routine.
“I truly was assured we’d be right here a month in the past collectively ’trigger I knew you’d come to your senses,” Parker joked.
Turning critical, Parker known as Chicago an “extremely essential marketplace for us.” Enterprise right here is “booming” with extra seats being provided on American flights this summer time than at any time within the final decade, he mentioned.
“Final summer time, we added service to Barcelona. Final week, we started service to Venice and Vancouver. And later this yr, we’ll get service to Hawaii and to 4 locations within the Caribbean,” Parker mentioned.
“Our funding isn’t restricted to development of recent gates. We’ve made a big funding for our premium clients with a brand new flagship lounge and renovated Admirals Membership. And later this yr, we’ll open up a brand new hanger and floor tools upkeep facility.”
Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans mentioned O’Hare desperately wants “trendy infrastructure and extra gates. Many extra gates.”
“These 5 gates will go a great distance in bettering service throughout the board for O’Hare with higher on-time efficiency and extra selections,” she mentioned.
Noting that fifteen “new worldwide flights” have been added at O’Hare since Jan. 1, the commissioner mentioned, “We’re stressing the services. We’re doing it on goal. We have now to construct the income that we have to generate [to bankroll] that new technology of progress for O’Hare.”
The $78 million plan so as to add 5 new gates at O’Hare Terminal three was accredited by the Metropolis Council two years in the past. It’s not a part of the, now $8.7 billion O’Hare enlargement challenge accredited in late March.
The 41,000 square-foot “L Concourse,” also called a “stinger” consists of new restrooms, concessions and ready areas.
The 20-month-long challenge will permit O’Hare’s second-largest provider to extend capability, enhance on-time efficiency and use regional jets with seating for 75 passengers to serve the regional and Midwest markets.
Emanuel known as it the beginning of one thing large on, what was, considerably fittingly, the ultimate day of the outdated airline lease settlement that tied town’s arms and ceded an excessive amount of energy to main airways to find out O’Hare’s future.
“In the present day, as we minimize the [ribbon] on the primary new gates in 25 years, begins the start line of a complete new chapter and a brand new period in Chicago’s financial progress and job creation,” Emanuel mentioned.
“New runways, new terminals, new gates, new concessions….As Chicago invests in its future in transportation, it would write its future going ahead.”
With out mentioning the choice Chicago voters will make in a mayoral election now simply over eleven months away, the mayor mentioned, “The selections we make within the subsequent two-to-three years will decide Chicago’s place over the following 20-to-30 years.”
Earlier than Friday, the worth tag on the 60,000-job O’Hare enlargement challenge was pegged at $8.5 billion. Evans upped the ante to $8.7 billion after airline tasks that had been “pending approval” acquired ultimate sign-off.