By John Schmeltzer
May 24, 2000

Six airlines with little or no current service to O'Hare International Airport were granted exemptions from rules restricting access to the airport so they can add service.

Restrictions on access to O'Hare and three other busy airports are being eased under terms of legislation that reauthorized the Federal Aviation Administration.

In addition to O'Hare, restrictions are being eased at New York's La Guardia Field and John F. Kennedy International Airport and Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport.

Established in 1969, the restrictions limit landings and takeoffs at O'Hare to about 2,400 daily between 6:45 a.m. and 9:15 p.m., effectively limiting competition.

But the O'Hare restrictions are being eliminated over the next two years under provisions of the FAA legislation.

During the two-year interim, however, the legislation directed the U.S. Department of Transportation to award exemptions to new carriers that will allow up to 60 additional operations each day at the airport.

Carriers awarded exemptions were:

Tempe, Ariz.-based America West Airlines, which offers one round-trip daily flight to Phoenix and three connecting flights, received exemptions for three additional flights each day.

Legend Airlines, of Dallas, received exemptions for four daily flights to Dallas' Love Field. Legend had sought exemptions for 10 daily flights.

Mesa Airlines, a commuter affiliate of America West, received exemptions for six daily flights between Columbus, Ohio, and Chicago. Mesa had sought exemptions for eight flights.

National Airlines, of Las Vegas, received exemptions for five round trips to Las Vegas.

Minneapolis-based Sun Country Airlines, which currently offers charter service to O'Hare, received exemptions to provide six daily flights to Minneapolis.

Detroit-based Spirit Airlines, which was formerly known as Charter One, received exemptions to provide six daily flights to up to six airports in Florida and South Carolina. Spirit had sought exemptions to provide 19 daily flights to the six airports.

"While the department could not grant all of the exemptions sought by three of the six carriers, it gave all six applicants sufficient access to O'Hare so that they could establish new competitive operations," the department said Tuesday.