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Daley To Meet With Airlines Over O’Hare Expansion

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Mayor Richard M. Daley

(Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Mayor Richard M. Daley said Monday morning that he will meet with American and United airlines on Thursday to try and hammer out an agreement that will avert the lawsuit the airlines have filed against the city over expansion at O’Hare International Airport.

But the mayor warned “they have to put something new on the table.”

Daley said the city has been negotiating with the airlines for three years — and the airlines’ position is they want the city to wait until 2019 to build more runways.

“This is unbelievable,” he said.

He noted that the airlines are not opposing airport expansion in any other city.

“Why Chicago? What is it about Chicago? Why is it only Chicago?” the mayor asked.

Daley made his remarks at a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new cancer center at Rush University Medical Center.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin was also there, and said he is optimistic — after his own meeting with the airlines last week — that common ground can be found.

The city has delayed issuing bonds for O’Hare expansion, while city officials and airlines argue over the merits of going forward.

The O’Hare Modernization Program calls for building one new runway, extending another runway and relocating a third. A new northern runway opened in November 2008.

But overall, the $15 billion expansion project is less than halfway done.

The Chicago Sun-Times contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire

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