April 17, 2001

Chicago Sun-Times

American CEO: O'Hare needs new runway

April 17, 2001


One of Peotone's biggest detractors, American Airlines, on Monday signaled a willingness to accept a third airport if it means new runways for O'Hare Airport.

"No matter what it takes, let's build a runway at O'Hare," American Chairman and CEO Donald Carty said during a Loop luncheon marking the company's 75th anniversary.

He urged political leaders to break the "logjam" that keeps O'Hare from expanding. If something's not done, he warned, O'Hare will "erode" as an aviation center because of mounting delays.

"I think we've really almost reached the point of crisis. Chicago O'Hare needs a runway just to go on as it is," he said, countering Chicago Aviation Commissioner Thomas Walker's claim that a new runway isn't needed until 2012.

"There is probably no single thing that can be done for the country that would improve the air traffic control system as much as new runways at Chicago."

Carty stressed that American still believes a Peotone airport isn't needed, and the airline doesn't want to pay for it.

But if it'll get O'Hare a new strip, then Peotone "absolutely" should be built, he said, adding American might even use the new facility. "Certainly if there was demand at such an airport, it would be a part of our network somehow. But it wouldn't be the hub O'Hare is," he said.

Major airlines, American and United included, have long resisted the construction of a new airport in far south suburban Peotone for financial and competitive reasons. And those airlines also have long wanted at least one new runway at O'Hare to reduce delays and spur growth.

[Chicago ATC News]