"No Guys... We Won't Need The Bulldozers For This One..."
When it comes to pumping more money into Chicago coffers, no
idea is too far-fetched to be off the table... including selling
off the city's second-busiest airport.
"This is thinking outside of the box," Chicago chief financial
officer Dana Levenson told the Chicago Tribune, regarding leasing
Midway International Airport to a third party. "Does it end up in a
transaction? We don't know. Yet, we have to be considering any and
Saturday, Mayor Richard
Daley (right) talked publicly about the deal, telling Chicago's
CBS-2 it's just one of many ideas on the table to bring
badly-needed funds to the city.
"You have city parking lots, garages (at) Midway Airport; you
have other public assets that if you sell them, you can re-invest
the money into the communities," Daley said. "What we've asked the
General Assembly to do is to give us the option to look at it."
That option would appear to be close at hand. Last week, the
Illinois state senate passed a bill maintaining Midway's property
tax-exempt status -- which makes leasing out the airport a viable
idea. The bill, which would also give the same status to five
city-owned parking garages, as well as (wait for it) three city
waste sorting and transfer stations -- is now awaiting a vote
before the state House of Representatives.
State Representative Robert Molaro, whose district includes
those living around the airport, said he believes privatizing
Midway is unlikely.
"As you go to money-crunching in government, you have to look at
everything," Molaro said. "So I don't mind (the city's study of the
issue). I just don't see how they can do it."
Even if the deal is approved and the city begins moving towards
selling all-or-part of Midway off to private operators, Levenson
said it could take years to complete the necessary
While the idea continues to gain traction in other parts of the
world, so far only one large commercial airport in the US has been
sold to a private company, after restrictions on the practice were
eased in 2000. Stewart International Airport, located 55 miles
north of New York City, is owned by National Express Group.
The US subsidiary of a British transportation company, National
Express has a 99-year lease on the airport, which paid the State of
New York $35 million.