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FAA Approves Privatization Of Chicago's Midway Airport

City Immediately Solicits Bids To Operate The Facility

The FAA on Friday gave its approval to the city of Chicago to transfer Midway Airport to a private management firm, and the city immediately opened the bidding process for a contract.

The FAA said in a brief statement that Chicago "can take the next steps to select a private airport operator." The Associated Press reports that Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he hopes the initial contract will generate enough revenue to retire the airport's approximate $1.4 billion debt to the city. Emanuel said he is seeking a company that will sign a 40 year lease with the city to operate the airport. A 59-page document was posted almost immediately after the FAA's memo approving the process was received.

Midway Airport is 85 years old, and saw nearly 20 million passengers last year, according to airport officials. The RFP document calls the airport an "excellent investment opportunity for the private sector."

Companies interested in running the airport have to have their initial proposals to the city by February 22nd. Final bids will be due later this year, though a firm date has not been set. Given the review periods and regulatory approval needed to transfer the airport to private management, there is no timeline for when a private company might actually begin to operate the airport.

FMI: www.faa.gov/airports/airport_compliance/privatization/

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