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December 3, 2001

Gov. Ryan Asks Congress to Pass Regional Airport Plan
O'Hare, Peotone and Meigs Airlines to Continue Subsidizing Meigs

CHICAGO -- Gov. George H. Ryan has asked Congress to pass a legislative package to put Peotone on a faster track with the FAA and approve an O'Hare expansion plan to keep Meigs open for 25 years.

"What I am proposing will reflect 99 percent of what I thought we had negotiated with the city last week,” Gov. Ryan said. "I can't see any reason for it to be derailed. Today, I am taking this on myself and proposing to move ahead with this program. I am asking the Congress to move as quickly as possible to pass this legislation."

Highlights of the legislative package are:

  • Put the Peotone Airport plan on a faster track for FAA approval.

  • Approve the city of Chicago's plan to reconfigure O’Hare with construction on the South Runway beginning with the year 2011 – the date the city proposed in June.

  • An aggressive soundproofing program for all homes and schools in the 65 decibel level.

  • Meigs will remain open for 25 years. The airlines would subsidize Meigs if and when Meigs runs a deficit.

The funding for Meigs Field remained the only stumbling block when talks broke off between city and state negotiators last Thursday.

"At the city's request, our draft legislation last week would have asked the General Assembly to pass an appropriation to subsidize Meigs if its expenses outpaced its revenues," Gov. Ryan said. "Since then, I have had the chance to study the finances of Meigs more closely. For the past 5 years, the airlines at O’Hare have been subsidizing the city’s cost at Meigs. The airlines have indicated that they would continue this arrangement and subsidize Meigs if and when Meigs runs a deficit. "

The Governor said the airline participation in Meigs will protect city and state taxpayers and that over time, Meigs will become more profitable.

"I believe with a long-term commitment to keep Meigs open, and with some investments to maximize revenues, the city will be able to run Meigs more profitably," Gov. Ryan said. "I believe keeping Meigs open is a fair trade-off for state approval for the multi-billion dollar O’Hare expansion plan."


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