Inside these posts: O’Hare International Airport

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City plans $1 billion O’Hare bond issue

Construction workers smooth off concrete mix as they work on the O'Hare expansion project in September 2010. (Chris Walker/Chicago Tribune)

After reaching a crucial compromise with United and American airlines, the city of Chicago is again planning to issue about $1 billion in debt to help fund the final phase of O’Hare International Airport’s expansion.

The city withdrew a $998.9 million bond issue in January after investors’ enthusiasm for the debt was dampened by a collapse in the municipal finance market, a credit-rating downgrade for O’Hare and a lawsuit filed by United and American aimed at blocking the project. Get the full story »

Radiation on O’Hare flights deemed no threat

Federal officials found traces of radiation on United and American airlines jets that arrived at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport from Tokyo Wednesday, but later determined that the planes’ cargo and passengers were not at risk.

As concerns mount about the radiation spewing into the atmosphere from Japan’s crippled nuclear reactors, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it had begun monitoring airline and maritime traffic for radiation contamination “out of an abundance of caution.” Get the full story »

City, airlines reach deal on O’Hare runways

By Jon Hilkevitch | Mayor Richard Daley and United and American airlines have negotiated a breakthrough, $1.7 billion deal to continue runway construction at O’Hare International Airport, according to the United States Department of Transportation.

The department issued a news release this morning that said the agreement on the O’Hare Modernization Program will allow work to begin on an additional south runway at the airport in addition to other improvements that would allow O’Hare to “deal with increasing traffic.”

O’Hare among 8 airports opening to Cuba flights

Eight new airports have been given permission to schedule charter flights to and from Cuba.

Customs and Border Protection officials say charter flights to Cuba can be scheduled from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and international airports in Baltimore, Dallas/Fort Worth, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Tampa, Atlanta and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Get the full story »

Virgin to enter O’Hare; makes Groupon splash

A Virgin America Airbus A319 airplane. (Charlotte Southern/Bloomberg)

By Julie Johnsson and Wailin Wong | Virgin America entered the Chicago market Wednesday with typical flair, unveiling a Groupon Deal of the Day that slashed prices on its new West Coast service to $128 round-trip.

The deeply discounted deal was the first air fare to be featured on Chicago-based Groupon and sold out in Chicago in just 8 minutes, said Virgin America spokewoman Abby Lunardini. Within 45 minutes, Virgin’s Groupon offer had sold out in San Francisco and Los Angeles, a total of 2,100 fares in all.
Get the full story »

O’Hare expansion lawsuit to move to trial

By Jon Hilkevitch | United and American airlines’ lawsuit against Chicago over the expansion of O’Hare International Airport will move toward trial after negotiations have so far failed to break an impasse, officials said Thursday.

Both sides on Thursday asked Judge Richard Billik of Cook County Circuit Court to lift a one-week delay on hearing the lawsuit, which seeks to prevent the city from borrowing more money to keep the O’Hare project going.

The delay was intended to give negotiations a chance to resolve major differences over the financing and timing of new runways. Get the full story »

O’Hare deal would open gates for Virgin America

The city of Chicago has struck a deal with Delta Air Lines that could pave the way for upstart Virgin America to begin service at O’Hare International Airport.

A proposed ordinance introduced by Mayor Daley in city council Wednesday would give the city control over the L concourse gates in Terminal 3. The gates have been largely vacant since Nov. 17, 2009, when Delta shifted its operations at O’Hare to merger partner Northwest Airline’s base in Terminal 2. Get the full story »

Ads coming to bathroom mirrors at O’Hare

The ad moves aside when a person stands in front. (Mirrus)Is no place sacred?

Just when you thought it was safe to wash your hands and check for things between your teeth in peace, an offshoot of Clear Channel Communications Inc. has found a way to serve up advertising in the bathroom mirror.

The mirrors in your home are still off limits (for now anyway) but a unit of Clear Channel Outdoor said Thursday that had teamed up with a North Carolina company called Mirrus to turn select bathroom mirrors at O’Hare International Airport into interactive billboards. Get the full story »

Fitch downgrades O’Hare bonds

By Jon Hilkevitch and Julie Johnsson | The Daley administration is flying into dangerous financial territory by increasing borrowings for the expansion of O’Hare International Airport to unprecedented levels in order to keep the runway construction project going, a top bond credit rating agency cautioned Wednesday.

Fitch Ratings downgraded O’Hare revenue bonds as well as bonds backed by passenger ticket taxes to “A-” status, while assigning a “stable” rating outlook.

The action came two days after Moody’s Investors Service downgraded to a “negative” outlook from “stable” some of the revenue bonds that Chicago has issued to help pay for the $15 billion O’Hare Modernization Program and related capital improvements deemed necessary for the success of the massive airfield project. Get the full story »

American-JAL ‘virtual merger’ to target Chicago

American Airlines and Japan Airlines plan to launch a new joint venture for trans-Pacific flying this spring, coordinating schedules to make it easier for travelers to catch international flights in Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.

The moves underscore Chicago’s importance as a gateway for travel to northern Asia and are intended to boost passenger loads for JAL’s flights as the carriers begin to divvy up costs and share revenues on trans-Pacific routes, executives said. Get the full story »

Moody’s downgrades outlook for O’Hare revenue bonds

By Jon Hilkevitch | A major credit rating firm delivered a stern warning Monday regarding the mounting risks that Chicago is taking by going deeper into debt in an attempt to build more runways at O’Hare International Airport without securing financial support from the airlines.

Moody’s Investors Service downgraded to a “negative” outlook from “stable” some of the revenue bonds that the Chicago Department of Aviation has issued to help pay for the $15 billion O’Hare Modernization Program and related projects.

Moody’s cited concern about the city’s latest gambit to postpone repayment of all interest on some construction bonds until at least 2018, resulting in much larger payments over the long run. The airlines and their customers would eventually be stuck paying for the increased borrowing costs through higher landing fees and higher airfares. Get the full story »

American opens cyber lounge for troops at O’Hare

American Airlines and USO of Illinois today opened a cyber canteen for active military service members who are traveling through Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

The new facility, located off the L concourse at the far eastern end of American’s Terminal 3, can seat about 120 people and is available for military personnel and their families.

Open daily from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m., the lounge features free Wi-Fi Internet access, food and drink and a lounge area where traveling troops can recharge. Get the full story »

Continental moving to United’s O’Hare terminal next week

Just in time for the busy Thanksgiving travel season, Continental Airlines is moving its ticketing and check-in counters to the neighboring terminal operated by corporate sibling United Airlines at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

Effective Tuesday, Nov. 16, Continental passengers will check in at Continental-branded counters in O’Hare’s Terminal 1, rather than Terminal 2, where the Houston-based carrier had been located.

The move is one of the first changes visible to travelers as the two carriers begin to combine operations following the Oct. 1 close of their merger, which created the world’s largest airline. Both carriers are wholly owned subsidiaries of United Continental Holdings Inc., their Chicago-based corporate parent. Get the full story »

Virgin America sets its sights on O’Hare again

Virgin America is once again looking to land at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in 2011, provided it can finalize an agreement with the city of Chicago to take over gates vacated by Delta Air Lines last year.

Virgin America CEO David Cush said Tuesday that talks were progressing and he was optimistic the carrier would begin daily flights from Chicago to Los Angeles and San Francisco next April.

“I think the city has certainly moved the process forward,” said Cush, saying he expected to hammer out an agreement in the next 30 to 45 days. “I’m more encouraged today than I was 60 days ago.” Get the full story »

Orbitz: O’Hare to be busiest U.S. airport on T-Day

Travelers may want to choose Chicago Midway airport over Chicago O’Hare International this Thanksgiving to avoid stress-induced indigestion before the turkey is even on the table.

That’s because O’Hare is expected to be the busiest airport in the nation this holiday, according to a ranking by Orbitz, a Chicago-based online travel company, outpacing its next busiest counterpart Los Angeles International airport by 20 percent. Get the full story »