April 25, 2001

Chicago Sun-Times

O'Hare delays to worsen

April 25, 2001


WASHINGTON--O'Hare Airport passengers will experience significant delays through the next 10 years, according to a federal study to be released today.

The gloomy travel forecast comes in a benchmark study of 31 of the nation's busiest airports.

"Demand at O'Hare is projected to grow by 18 percent over the next decade," concluded the study, prepared for the Federal Aviation Administration. "This imbalance between capacity and demand growth is expected to significantly increase delays at O'Hare."

The city plans to reconvene its "delay task force" to try to figure out how to cram more flights in the airport. City Aviation Commissioner Thomas R. Walker said O'Hare delay problems will continue until the airport "reconfigures existing runways or adds new runways."

Key findings in the report reveal:

* O'Hare can handle 200 to 202 operations an hour in good weather; with adverse weather conditions this is cut to 157 to 160 or fewer flights per hour. On good weather days, traffic is at or above capacity for 3.5 hours of the day, with only about 2 percent of flights delayed more than 15 minutes. With bad weather, the significant delay factor jumps to 12 percent.

* While O'Hare traffic is expected to grow 18 percent by 2010, technological improvements will squeeze only 6 percent to 12 percent more capacity out of the airport.

* O'Hare ranked three in delays of more than 15 minutes in 2000, which includes 6 percent of all flights.

* O'Hare and six other airports will be responsible for most of the delays over the next decade. They are LaGuardia and Kennedy, both in New York; Newark; San Francisco; Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.

[Chicago ATC News]