The Chicago City Council has signed a use and lease agreement with United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Spirit Airlines for the historic $8.5 billion plan to expand and modernize Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) that was announced in February.
Initially, the project had run into issues because American Airlines Group Inc. claimed the city engaged in last-minute private dealings with United Airlines. However, both airlines are now on board for the deal.
This new use and lease agreement between Chicago and its airline partners is the beginning of the O’Hare 21 terminal redevelopment program, a capital expansion program that will be developed over the next eight years.
The project is designed to increase connectivity and reduce delays. It will also expand ORD’s facilities, with a 25 percent increase in gate capacity, new state-of-the-art security and technology, and a series of infrastructure improvements developed to increase airline performance and provide a seamless customer experience.
By 2026, ORD’s Terminal Area Plan will have redeveloped all of O’Hare’s existing terminals. Changes to terminal capacity are expected to improve airline performance, reduce flight delays and create more flight options for travelers. Security-screening upgrades are designed to reduce wait times for passengers. New self-service technologies are expected to provide faster options for flight check-in and baggage drop-off, and upgrades to the baggage systems will streamline the baggage-handling process.
The centerpiece of the ORD overhaul, according to the city, is ORD’s new international terminal, the O’Hare Global Terminal. With its larger arrival facility and improvements to the customs and immigration procession, the O’Hare Global Terminal will improve processing time for international passengers. ORD also has plans to become the first Global Alliance Hub in North America.
“We are investing in capacity, technology and modern facilities that will elevate the customer experience and significantly improve operational efficiencies with our historic $8.5 billion expansion plan so that O’Hare remains a top global hub and strong competitor in today’s growing commercial aviation sector,” says Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans. “Working together with our airline partners, we will ensure O’Hare is positioned to grow and better serve its customers with new, modern amenities, while providing a myriad of new opportunities for Chicagoans to participate in O’Hare’s growth and economic power.”
In addition to the capital improvement plan, the use and lease agreement provides governance for all 61 airlines that use ORD.
The new use and lease agreement will go into effect on May 12 when the current 35-year-old lease expires.