Consultants Tell O'Hare to Rethink Expansion Plan

By McCoppin, Robert | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), September 12, 2002 | Go to article overview

Consultants Tell O'Hare to Rethink Expansion Plan


McCoppin, Robert, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Robert McCoppin Daily Herald Staff Writer

The number of passengers at O'Hare International Airport may not return to pre-Sept. 11 levels for a decade, an aviation consultant predicted Wednesday.

On a day when O'Hare was unusually quiet because of the one-year anniversary of terrorist hijackings, consultant Mike Boyd said travelers should get used to an emptier airport.

Long-term capacity reductions by both American and United airlines point to much lower traffic levels, according to the annual Airports: USA report by The Boyd Group/ASCR in Evergreen, Colo., a consultant to airports and airlines.

"ORD, revisit that expansion plan," the report headlined, calling O'Hare by the three-letter federal designation on its baggage tickets.

The firm uses local economics, demographics, travel trends and airline analysis to tailor its forecasts to each airport.

Despite the pessimistic projection, Boyd said he still believed O'Hare expansion will be needed in the long run, but it may need to be scaled back.

Nationwide, the next three to five years are "particularly disturbing," the report found, projecting air passenger traffic will still be 9 percent below 2000 levels by 2005.

"The national traffic plunge will be deep and not return to year 2000 levels until at least 2005-2006, best case," the report stated. "That means that airport capacity planning may need to be revised."

Chicago officials propose rebuilding O'Hare to add four new east-west runways over 15 years, almost doubling the passenger capacity to 72 million people annually.

The expansion would demolish more than 500 homes in Bensenville, as well as businesses in Elk Grove and Des Plaines, while reducing flight delays and providing a new driveway access from the West suburbs. …

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