O'Hare International Airport


O'Hare International Airport
Chicago O'Hare International Airport
O'Hare International Airport (USGS).png
USGS aerial image, 2011
IATA: ORDICAO: KORDFAA LID: ORD
Summary
Airport type Public
Owner City of Chicago
Operator Chicago Airport System
Serves Chicago, Illinois, USA
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 668 ft / 204 m
Coordinates 41°58′43″N 87°54′17″W / 41.97861°N 87.90472°W / 41.97861; -87.90472Coordinates: 41°58′43″N 87°54′17″W / 41.97861°N 87.90472°W / 41.97861; -87.90472
Website flychicago.com/About/...
Map
ORD is located in Chicago
ORD
Location of airport in Chicago
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
4L/22R 7,500 2,286 Asphalt
4R/22L 8,075 2,461 Asphalt
9L/27R 7,500 2,286 Concrete
9R/27L 7,967 2,428 Asphalt/Concrete
10/28 13,001 3,962 Asphalt/Concrete
14L/32R 10,005 3,050 Asphalt
14R/32L 9,685 2,952 Asphalt/Concrete
Helipads
Number Length Surface
ft m
H1 200 61 Concrete
Statistics (2010)
Passenger volume 66,665,390
Sources: FAA[1] and airport's website.[2]

Chicago O'Hare International Airport (IATA: ORDICAO: KORDFAA LID: ORD), also known as O'Hare Airport, O'Hare Field, Chicago Airport, Chicago International Airport, or simply O'Hare, is a major airport located in the northwestern-most corner of Chicago, Illinois, United States, 17 miles (27 km) northwest of the Chicago Loop. It is the primary airport serving the Chicago area, with Chicago Midway International Airport, about 10 miles (16 km) closer to the Loop, serving as a secondary airport for domestic flights.

United Airlines (including United Express) is the largest airline at O'Hare, carrying over 45% of passengers. O'Hare is the largest hub for United Airlines but will become the second-largest United hub in terms of flight operations after Houston-Bush following the merger with Continental. American Airlines (including American Eagle) has the second largest operation at O'Hare, carrying 37.08% of passengers. O'Hare is its second-largest hub after Dallas/Fort Worth.[3]

Prior to 2005, O'Hare was the world's busiest airport in terms of takeoffs and landings. Mainly due to limits imposed by the federal government to reduce flight delays at O'Hare,[4] Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport became the busiest by that metric in 2005. O'Hare is now the third busiest airport in the world with 66,665,390 passengers passing through the airport in 2010, a +3.3% change from 2009.[5] It is the world's second busiest airport in terms of aircraft movements. In 2008, the airport had 881,566 aircraft operations, an average of 2,409 per day (64% scheduled commercial, 33% air taxi, 3% general aviation and <1% military).[1] O'Hare has a strong international presence, with flights to more than 60 foreign destinations: it is the fourth busiest international gateway in the United States behind John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, Los Angeles International Airport and Miami International Airport.

O’Hare has been voted the "Best Airport in North America" for 10 years by two separate sources: Readers of the U.S. Edition of Business Traveler Magazine (1998–2003) and Global Traveler Magazine (2004–2007).[6] Travel and Leisure magazine's 2009 "America's Favorite Cities" ranked Chicago's Airport System (O'Hare and Midway) the second-worst for delays, New York City's airport system (JFK, Newark Liberty, and LaGuardia) being the first.[7] O'Hare currently accounts for over a sixth of the nation's total flight cancellations.[8]

It is operated by the City of Chicago Department of Aviation, associated with an umbrella regional authority. Most of O'Hare Airport is in Cook County, but a section of the southwest part of the airport is in DuPage County. The Cook County portion is located within a section of the city of Chicago contiguously connected to the rest of the city via a narrow strip of land about 200 feet (61 m) wide, running along Foster Ave. from the Des Plaines River to the airport. This land was annexed into the city limits in the 1950s to assure the massive tax revenue associated with the airport being part of the city. The strip is bounded on the north by Rosemont and the south by Schiller Park.[9]

The airport is named after Edward O'Hare, the U.S. Navy's first flying ace and Medal of Honor recipient in World War II.

Contents

History

Model of "Butch" O'Hare's Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat on display in Terminal 2 of the airport

World War II

The airport was constructed in 1942–43 as a manufacturing plant for Douglas C-54s during World War II.[10] The site was chosen for its proximity to the city and transportation.[10] The two million square-foot (180,000 m²) factory needed easy access to the workforce of the nation's then-second-largest city, as well as its extensive railroad infrastructure. Orchard Place was a small nearby farming community.[10]

Douglas Company's contract ended in 1945 and though plans were proposed to build commercial aircraft, the company ultimately chose to concentrate production on the west coast. With the departure of Douglas, the airport took the name Orchard Field Airport, the source of its three-letter IATA code ORD.

In 1945, the facility was chosen by the city of Chicago as the site for a facility to meet future aviation demands. Matthew Laflin Rockwell (1915–1988) was the director of planning for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and responsible for the site selection and design of O'Hare International Airport. He was the great grandson of Matthew Laflin, a founder and pioneer of Chicago. The airport was renamed to "O'Hare International Airport" in 1949.

Commercial development

By the early 1950s Chicago Midway International Airport, Chicago's primary airport since 1931, had become too crowded despite multiple expansions and could not handle the planned first generation of jets. The city of Chicago and the FAA began to develop O'Hare as the main airport for Chicago's future.

Commercial passenger flights started in 1955 and by the following year O'Hare was served by American, BOAC, Braniff, Capital, Delta, Eastern, North Central, Pan Am, TWA and United, along with freight airlines Riddle and Slick.[11] O'Hare also opened a $1 million "Skymotive" terminal for corporate aircraft in 1955, the first of its kind.[12]

Growth was slow at first. By 1957 Chicago had invested over $25 million in O'Hare, but Midway remained the world's busiest airport and airlines were reluctant to relocate all of their services to O'Hare until better highway access and other capital improvements were completed.[13] The April 1957 Official Airline Guide shows 10 weekday departures on United, 9 on American, 6 on Capital, 3 Eastern, 3 TWA, 2 Delta, 2 North Central, and 1 Braniff. Also three weekly Pan Am and one weekly BOAC (Air France and Lufthansa were at Midway). O'Hare's first dedicated international terminal opened in August 1958. By April 1959 the airport had expanded to 7,200 acres (29 km2) with new hangars, terminals, parking and other facilities. The expressway link to downtown Chicago was completed in 1960.[11]

All fixed-wing scheduled airline service in Chicago moved from Midway to O'Hare by July 1962. President John F. Kennedy attended a dedication ceremony in 1963.[11] The arrival of Midway's former traffic quickly made O'Hare the world's busiest airport, serving 10 million passengers annually. Within two years that number would double, with more people passing through O'Hare in 12 months than Ellis Island had processed in its entire existence. In late 1972, Chicago city officials reached an agreement with airlines to shift some services back to Midway in order to ease the overcrowding at O'Hare.[14] Despite this, O'Hare remained the world's busiest airport through the 1970s and 1980s.[15] In the late 1970s Midway was nearly abandoned; it enjoyed a revival after startup carrier Midway Airlines began low-cost service there in 1979-80.[16]

Airline Operations (Takeoffs Plus Landings)
Midway O'Hare
1958 337421 66205
1959 345170 82417
1960 298582 163351
1961 187978 235908
1962 46873 331090
1963 19054 358266
1964 19017 389640
1965 16716 443026
1966 5090 478644
1967 4427 573506
1968 26941 628632
1969 31394 632030
1970 43553 598973
1971 51734 565826

Pre-deregulation service

Prior to airline deregulation in 1978, a number of major airlines had focused operations at O'Hare.

American Airlines, United Airlines and Trans World Airlines operated numerous routes to the West Coast, Northeast and Midwest, and TWA also served Europe nonstop from Chicago.[17][18][19] Northwest Orient Airlines offered flights to the Northeast, Pacific Northwest, Florida and Hawaii, as well as service through Alaska to Japan and the Far East.[20] Delta Air Lines served destinations in the Southeast and Midwest.[21]

During this era, Terminal 1 was used for international flights. Terminal 2 (concourses D, E and F) served United, Ozark, Braniff, Eastern, Northwest, Continental and Piedmont. In Terminal 3, Concourse G served TWA and Air Canada, and Concourses H and K served American, Delta and North Central (later merged into Republic Airlines).

Post-deregulation developments

In the 1980s, after deregulation, TWA replaced Chicago with St. Louis as its main mid-continent hub.[22] Northwest likewise shifted to a Minneapolis and Detroit-centered network by the early 1990s following its acquisition of Republic Airlines in 1986.[23]

United and American both established nationwide hubs at the airport in the 1980s which continue to operate today. United developed a new Terminal 1 designed by Helmut Jahn, which was built between 1985 and 1987 on the site of the old international terminal. American renovated its existing facilities in Terminal 3 by 1990. Delta maintained a Chicago hub for some time, and opened a new Concourse L in Terminal 3 (initially known as the "Delta Flight Center") in 1983, but ultimately closed its Chicago hub in the 1990s.

Due to the construction of Terminal 1 for United, international flights were relocated to a temporary Terminal 4 from 1984 until 1993. Terminal 4 was located on the ground floor of the main parking garage; international passengers would check in there and be taken directly to their aircraft by bus. A new Terminal 5 opened in 1993 to handle all international arrivals and many international departures. Since the opening of Terminal 5, Terminal 4 has been changed into the airport's facility for CTA buses, hotel shuttles, and other ground transportation; the T4 designation may be used again in the future as new terminals are developed. The CTA Blue Line was extended to the airport in 1984.[11]

Total annual passenger volume at O'Hare reached 30 million in 1968, 40 million in 1976, 60 million in 1990 and 70 million in 1997.[11]

Delta moved from Terminal 3 to Terminal 2 in 2009 in order to align its operations with merger partner Northwest Airlines. Continental moved from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1 in 2010 as part of its merger with United Airlines.[24]

United States Air Force use

See: O'Hare Air Reserve Station

The original Douglas Aircraft C-54 Skymaster transport manufacturing plant on the northeast side of the airport became a United States Air Force Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve facility after World War II. It was used by the USAF from 1947 until 1999 as O'Hare Air Reserve Station, making the airport a joint civil-military airfield during this period.

The 1993 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission recommended the closure of O'Hare Air Reserve Station as proposed by the municipal government of the City of Chicago and the transfer of both the Illinois Air National Guard's 126th Air Refueling Wing (126 ARW) and its KC-135 aircraft, and the Air Force Reserve Command's 928th Airlift Wing (928 AW) and its C-130 aircraft to new facilities to be constructed at Scott AFB, Illinois. The 126 ARW moved from the former O'Hare Air Reserve Station at O'Hare International Airport to Scott AFB, Illinois in 1999 as recommended by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission's Report to Congress in conjunction with the closure of the Air Force Reserve Command and Air National Guard facilities at O'Hare. Instead of moving to Scott AFB, subsequent BRAC action directed that the 928 AW be inactivated and its C-130 aircraft reallocated to other Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units.

Following the closure of the O'Hare Air Reserve Station, the former USAF facilities were redeveloped for air cargo and general aviation. Today, Signature Flight Support services private aircraft in this area.

Accidents and incidents

1057 fatalities have occurred as a result of accidents en route to or from Chicago O'Hare.[25]

  • On September 2, 2010, American Airlines Flight 1487 to Reno, Nevada was struck by lightning and forced to return. No one was hurt.
  • On the afternoon of November 7, 2006, a group of United Airlines workers reported seeing an unidentified flying object near gate C-17.[26]
  • On October 8, 2001, on American Airlines Flight 1238, en route from Los Angeles to Chicago, a psychotic passenger stormed the cockpit 40 minutes before landing in Chicago, causing the plane to drop sharply and spark panic. In light of the fear ignited by 9/11, flight crew and passengers were quickly able to wrestle the man to the ground and subdue him. Additionally, a distress signal was sent by the pilots, causing two F-16s to race at supersonic speeds to intercept and escort the aircraft to O'Hare International Airport. This caused a sonic boom in Chicago's northwest suburbs, startling millions of residents.[27]
  • On April 1, 1999, a near-miss occurred on the intersection on Runways 14 right and 27 left between Korean Air Flight 36 and Air China 9018, both Boeing 747s. The Korean Air 747-400 pilot took evasive action by applying maximum power, rotating earlier than planned, and rolling slightly left once airborne to avoid the Air China Boeing 747 freighter. The aircraft missed each other by an estimated 75 feet (23 m). The actions of the Korean Air flight crew are credited with saving everyone on board both aircraft.[28] 7 years later, on July 23, 2006, another near-miss occurred between Giant 6972, an Atlas Air Boeing 747 and United Airlines Flight 1015, a Boeing 737, who missed each other by 35 feet (11 m).[29]
  • On February 9, 1998, American Airlines Flight 1340 crashed upon landing in Chicago from Kansas City International Airport injuring 22 passengers.[30]
  • On October 31, 1994, American Eagle Flight 4184 crashed over northwestern Indiana en route to Chicago, killing all 68 people on board.[31]
  • On September 8, 1994, USAir Flight 427 crashed on approach to Pittsburgh, PA, after departing O'Hare, killing all 132 people on board.[32]
  • On July 19, 1989, United Airlines Flight 232, en route to Chicago from Denver, crash-landed in Sioux City, Iowa, killing 111 people on board.[33]
  • On August 10, 1986, American Trans Air Flight 131 exploded on the tarmac at O'Hare, destroying the plane.[34]
  • On March 19, 1982, a USAF KC-135 crashed upon approach to O'Hare 40 miles (64 km) northwest of the city (near Woodstock), killing 27 people on board.[35]
  • On May 25, 1979, American Airlines Flight 191 crashed just after takeoff on runway 32R from Chicago en route to Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California, killing all 271 people on board and two people on the ground. The crash remains the deadliest single-aircraft crash in United States history, and the worst aviation disaster in the nation before September 11, 2001.[36]
  • On March 28, 1977, Douglas C-47A N57131 of Emery Worldwide was destroyed by fire following a taxiing accident. The aircraft was due to operate a cargo flight.[37]
  • On December 20, 1972, North Central Airlines Flight 575 crashed upon takeoff, killing 10 passengers.[38]
  • On December 27, 1968, North Central Airlines Flight 458 crashed into a hangar at O'Hare, killing 27 onboard and one on the ground.[39]
  • On March 21, 1968 United Airlines Flight 9963 a Boeing 727 overran runway 09R on take off. None of the 3 crew on board were killed but injured and the aircraft was damaged beyond repair.[40]
  • On August 16, 1965, United Airlines Flight 389 crashed 30 miles (48 km) east of O'Hare while on approach, killing all 30 onboard.[41]
  • On September 17, 1961, Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 706 had a mechanical failure in control surfaces and crashed upon takeoff at Chicago O'Hare killing all 37 onboard.[42]

Terminals

United Airlines Terminal 1, Concourse B
American Airlines Terminal 3 Main Hall
Terminal 5 – International

O'Hare has four numbered passenger terminals with nine lettered concourses and a total of 182 aircraft gates. Two or more additional terminal buildings are envisioned; there is the possibility of a large terminal complex for the west side of the field, with access from I-90 and/or the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway, if the runway reconfiguration is completed and passenger numbers require additional terminals.

Note: All international arrivals at O'Hare (except flights from destinations with border preclearance) are handled at Terminal 5.

Aircraft taxiing in Chicago

Terminal 1

Terminal 1 houses the hub of United Airlines and departures for some of its Star Alliance partners. It has 53 gates on two concourses:

  • Concourse B - 23 gates
  • Concourse C - 30 gates

Concourses B and C are linear concourses located in separate buildings parallel to each other. Concourse B is adjacent to the airport roadway and houses passenger check-in, baggage claim and security screening on its landside and aircraft gates on its airside. Concourse C is a satellite concourse with gates on all sides. Passengers transit between the two concourses via a pedestrian tunnel under the tarmac and are treated to a neon light show and music while riding on moving walkways.

United Airlines runs a post-security shuttle service between Concourse C (Gate C-9) and Concourses E & F (Gate E-2A) in Terminal 2. United operates three United Clubs in Terminal 1 (two in Concourse B, one in Concourse C) as well as a United First International Lounge and United Arrivals Suite in Concourse C.

Terminal 1 houses All Nippon Airways's Chicago office.[43]

Terminal 2

Terminal 2 houses US Airways and Delta Air Lines. United Express also operates a number of flights from Terminal 2, but check-in for these flights is conducted in Terminal 1. Terminal 2 has 38 gates on two concourses:

  • Concourse E - 16 gates
  • Concourse F - 22 gates

United Airlines runs a United Club in Concourse F near gate F4A, while Delta has a SkyClub on Concourse E.

Terminal 3

Terminal 3 houses the American Airlines hub, as well as departing flights for certain oneworld alliance carriers and unaffiliated domestic low-cost carriers. Terminal 3 has 80 gates on four concourses:

  • Concourse G - 26 gates
  • Concourse H - 21 gates
  • Concourse K - 22 gates
  • Concourse L - 11 gates

Concourse G primarily houses American Eagle operations, while concourses H and K house American mainline operations, and concourse L, the previous home of Delta, now primarily houses low-cost carrier operations. Terminal 3 has two American Airlines Admirals Clubs and a Flagship Lounge.

Terminal 5 (International Terminal)

All international arrivals at O'Hare (excluding flights from destinations with U.S. border preclearance) are processed at Terminal 5, which also handles most non-US carriers and certain domestic low-cost carriers. Terminal 5 has 21 gates on one concourse (Concourse M).

Terminal 5 houses a number of airline lounges including the Aer Lingus Gold Circle Club, Air France Lounge, Alitalia Sala Freccia Alata, British Airways Lounge, Korean Air Lounge, SAS Business Lounge and Swiss Lounge.

Airlines and destinations

Airlines Destinations Terminal/
Concourse
Aer Lingus Dublin 5M
Aeroméxico Guadalajara, Mexico City 5M
Aeroméxico Connect Durango, Leon/El Bajio, Monterrey
Seasonal: Zacatecas
5M
Air Canada Montréal-Trudeau, Toronto-Pearson 2E
Air Canada Express operated by Jazz Air Montréal-Trudeau, Toronto-Pearson 2E
Air Choice One Burlington (IA), Decatur 3L
Air France Seasonal: Paris-Charles de Gaulle[44] 5M
Air India Delhi, Hyderabad 5M
Alaska Airlines Anchorage, Portland (OR), Seattle/Tacoma 3L
Alitalia Seasonal: Rome-Fiumicino[45] 5M
All Nippon Airways Tokyo-Narita 1C
American Airlines Austin, Beijing-Capital, Boston, Dallas/Fort Worth, Delhi, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Kansas City, Las Vegas, London-Heathrow, Los Angeles, Manchester (UK), Mexico City, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New Orleans, New York-JFK, New York-LaGuardia, Orange County, Orlando, Paris-Charles de Gaulle , Philadelphia, Phoenix, Raleigh/Durham, Reno/Tahoe, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), San Juan, Seattle/Tacoma, Shanghai-Pudong, Tampa, Tokyo-Narita, Tucson, Tulsa, Washington-National, West Palm Beach
Seasonal: Anchorage, Calgary, Cancún, Cozumel, Dublin, Eagle/Vail, El Paso, Hayden/Steamboat Springs, Helsinki, Honolulu, Jackson Hole, Montego Bay, Newark, Palm Springs, Puerto Vallarta, San José del Cabo, Toronto-Pearson
3H, 3K, 3L
AmericanConnection operated by Chautauqua Airlines Bloomington/Normal, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, Dubuque, Flint, Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, Kalamazoo, La Crosse, Louisville, Madison, Milwaukee, Moline/Quad Cities, Oklahoma City, Peoria, Rochester (MN), Toledo, Wausau/Stevens Point, White Plains 3L
American Eagle Albuquerque, Atlanta, Baltimore, Blountville/Tri-Cities, Buffalo, Calgary, Champaign/Urbana, Charlotte, Charlottesville, Chattanooga, Cleveland, Columbus (OH), Dayton, Denver, Des Moines, Detroit, Dubuque, Evansville, Fargo, Fayetteville (AR), Grand Rapids, Green Bay, Harrisburg, Hartford, Houston-Intercontinental, Huntsville, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kalamazoo, Kansas City, Knoxville, La Crosse, Lexington, Little Rock, Madison, Manhattan (KS), Marquette, Memphis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Montréal-Trudeau, Nashville, New Orleans, Newark, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Ottawa, Pensacola, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh/Durham, Rapid City, Richmond, Rochester (MN), Rochester (NY), Salt Lake City, San Antonio, Sioux Falls, Springfield (MO), Syracuse, Toledo, Toronto-Pearson, Traverse City, Tulsa, Washington-National, Watertown (NY), Wichita, Wilmington (NC)
Seasonal: El Paso
3G, 3H
Asiana Airlines Seoul-Incheon 5M
British Airways London-Heathrow 5M
Cayman Airways Seasonal: Grand Cayman 5M
Cathay Pacific Hong Kong 5M
Continental Airlines Cleveland, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Houston-Intercontinental, Newark, Orange County, Orlando, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, St. Thomas
Seasonal: Anchorage, West Palm Beach
1B
Continental Connection operated by Colgan Air Cleveland 1B
Continental Express operated by Chautauqua Airlines Cleveland 1B
Continental Express operated by ExpressJet Airlines Cleveland, Newark 1B
Copa Airlines Panama City [begins December 15][46] 5M
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul
Seasonal: Salt Lake City
2E
Delta Air Lines Seasonal: Paris-Charles de Gaulle 5M^
Delta Connection operated by Atlantic Southeast Airlines Atlanta, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis/St. Paul 2E
Delta Connection operated by Comair Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, Memphis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York-JFK 2E
Delta Connection operated by Compass Airlines Minneapolis/St. Paul 2E
Delta Connection operated by Mesaba Airlines Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, Detroit, Memphis, New York-JFK 2E
Delta Connection operated by Pinnacle Airlines Atlanta 2E
Delta Connection operated by Shuttle America Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York-LaGuardia 2E
Delta Connection operated by SkyWest Airlines Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, Salt Lake City 2E
Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi 5M
Iberia Madrid 3K
Iceland Express Seasonal: Reykjavik-Keflavik[47] 5M
Japan Airlines Tokyo-Narita 3K
JetBlue Airways Boston, Long Beach, New York-JFK 3L
KLM Amsterdam 5M
Korean Air Seoul-Incheon 5M
LOT Polish Airlines Warsaw 5M
Lufthansa Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich 1B
Pakistan International Airlines Barcelona, Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore 5M
Royal Jordanian Amman-Queen Alia 5M
Scandinavian Airlines Copenhagen, Stockholm-Arlanda 5M
Spirit Airlines Boston, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York-LaGuardia, Orlando
Seasonal: Atlantic City, Myrtle Beach
3L
Swiss International Air Lines Zürich 5M
TACA Airlines Guatemala City, San Salvador 5M
Turkish Airlines Istanbul-Atatürk 5M
United Airlines Albany, Amsterdam, Atlanta, Baltimore, Beijing-Capital, Boise, Boston, Brussels, Buffalo, Calgary, Cancún, Charlotte, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, Cleveland, Columbus (OH), Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Des Moines, Detroit, Frankfurt, Grand Rapids, Guam, Harrisburg, Hartford/Springfield, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Houston-Intercontinental, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Kona, Las Vegas, London-Heathrow, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Munich, New Orleans, New York-LaGuardia, Newark, Omaha, Orange County, Orlando, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland (OR), Providence, Puerto Vallarta, Raleigh/Durham, Richmond, Rochester (NY), Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Juan, São Paulo-Guarulhos, Seattle/Tacoma, Shanghai-Pudong, Tampa, Tokyo-Narita, Toronto-Pearson, Vancouver, Washington-Dulles, Washington-National
Seasonal: Aruba, Bozeman, Cozumel, Jackson Hole, Kahului, Liberia (Costa Rica), Miami, Montego Bay, Palm Springs, Punta Cana, Rapid City, St. Maarten, San José del Cabo
1B, 1C
United Express operated by Atlantic Southeast Airlines Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, Cleveland, Columbia (SC), Columbus (OH), Dayton, Detroit, Greensboro, Greenville/Spartanburg, Huntsville, Jacksonville, Norfolk, Pensacola, Portland (ME), Roanoke, Rochester (NY), Savannah, South Bend, Syracuse 2E*, 2F*
United Express operated by ExpressJet Airlines Akron/Canton, Albany, Allentown/Bethlehem, Appleton, Atlanta, Baltimore, Birmingham (AL), Bismarck, Buffalo, Burlington (VT), Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Charlotte, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, Cleveland, Columbia (SC), Dayton, Des Moines, Detroit, Fargo, Fayetteville (AR), Grand Rapids, Green Bay, Greensboro, Greenville/Spartanburg, Harrisburg, Hartford, Huntsville, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Knoxville, Lansing, Lexington, Lincoln, Little Rock, Louisville, Madison, Manchester (NH), Memphis, Montréal-Trudeau, Nashville, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Ottawa, Pensacola, Peoria, Pittsburgh, Portland (ME), Providence, Raleigh/Durham, Rapid City, Richmond, Roanoke, Rochester (NY), Savannah, Sioux Falls, South Bend, Springfield (MO), Syracuse, Toronto-Pearson, Traverse City, Tulsa, Wausau/Stevens Point, Wichita, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 1B, 1C, 2E*, 2F*
United Express operated by GoJet Airlines Albany, Austin, Baltimore, Boise, Bozeman, Burlington (VT), Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, Dayton, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Greensboro,Hartford, Jacksonville, Kansas City,Madison, Manchester (NH), Moline/Quad Cities, Montréal-Trudeau, New Orleans, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Philadelphia, Portland (ME), Providence, Richmond, Rochester (NY), St. Louis, San Antonio, Syracuse, Toronto-Pearson, Tulsa 1B, 1C, 2F
United Express operated by Mesa Airlines Austin, Buffalo, Burlington (VT), Charleston (SC), Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Dayton, Des Moines, Detroit, Harrisburg, Hartford, Houston-Intercontinental, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Madison, Memphis, Miami, Nashville, Norfolk, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland (ME), Raleigh/Durham, Rochester (NY), San Antonio, Savannah, South Bend, Syracuse 1B, 1C, 2E*, 2F*
United Express operated by Shuttle America Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Buffalo, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Charlotte, Columbus (OH), Dallas/Fort Worth, Des Moines, Detroit, Edmonton, Fort Myers, Grand Rapids, Halifax, Hartford, Houston-Intercontinental, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Louisville, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Moline/Quad Cities, Montréal-Trudeau, New Orleans, New York-LaGuardia, Newark, Norfolk, Omaha, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Quebec City, Raleigh/Durham, Rochester (NY), St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, South Bend, Toronto-Pearson, Washington-National, White Plains
Seasonal: Myrtle Beach, Spokane,
1B, 1C
United Express operated by SkyWest Airlines Albuquerque, Allentown/Bethlehem, Asheville, Atlanta, Austin, Birmingham (AL), Boise, Calgary, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Charleston (WV), Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, Cleveland, Colorado Springs, Dallas/Fort Worth, Dayton, Des Moines, Detroit, Duluth, Eau Claire, Edmonton, Fargo, Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids, Green Bay, Hancock/Houghton, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Knoxville, Lincoln, London (ON), Louisville, Madison, Memphis, Milwaukee, Moline/Quad Cities, Muskegon, Nashville, New Orleans, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Ottawa, Paducah, Peoria, Pittsburgh, Quebec City, Regina, St. Louis, Saginaw, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, Saskatoon, Sioux Falls, South Bend, Spokane, Springfield (IL), Syracuse, Traverse City, Tulsa, White Plains, Wichita, Winnipeg
Seasonal: Aspen, Billings, Hayden/Steamboat Springs, Kalispell, Missoula, Rapid City
1B, 1C, 2E*, 2F*
United Express operated by Trans States Airlines Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Charleston (SC), Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, Dayton, Greensboro, Harrisburg, Huntsville, Knoxville, Manchester (NH), Nashville, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Richmond, Roanoke, Rochester (NY), St. Louis, Syracuse 1B, 1C
US Airways Charlotte, Philadelphia, Phoenix 2E, 2F
US Airways Express operated by Republic Airlines Charlotte 2E, 2F
USA3000 Airlines Cancun, Ft. Myers [ends January 2], Montego Bay, Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana, San José del Cabo
Seasonal: Huatulco, Liberia (Costa Rica)
5M
Virgin America Los Angeles, San Francisco 3L
Virgin Atlantic Airways Seasonal: London-Heathrow 5M
  • - Although Concourses E and F are part of Terminal 2, check-in and baggage claim for all United flights are in Terminal 1.

^- Delta check in for the flight to Paris-CDG is in Terminal 2 but the flight will depart from the International Terminal 5.

Traffic and statistics

Busiest International Routes from O'Hare (2009–2010)[48]
Rank Airport Passengers Carriers
1 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg London (Heathrow), United Kingdom 1,108,513 American, British Airways, United, Virgin Atlantic
2 Flag of Germany.svg Frankfurt, Germany 919,448 Lufthansa, United
3 Flag of Canada.svg Toronto (Pearson), Canada 747,713 Air Canada, American, United
4 Flag of Japan.svg Tokyo (Narita), Japan 651,643 All Nippon, American, JAL, United
5 Flag of Mexico.svg Cancún, Mexico 400,424 American, United, USA3000
6 Flag of France.svg Paris (Charles de Gaulle), France 346,940 Air France, American, United
7 Flag of Canada.svg Montréal (Trudeau), Canada 345,384 Air Canada, American, United
8 Flag of Germany.svg Munich, Germany 318,762 Lufthansa, United
9 Flag of Mexico.svg Mexico City, Mexico 318,063 Aeroméxico, American, United
10 Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg Shanghai (Pudong), China 299,351 American, United
11 Flag of South Korea.svg Seoul (Incheon), South Korea 294,037 Asiana, Korean Air
12 Flag of Ireland.svg Dublin, Ireland 263,427 Aer Lingus, American
13 Flag of Canada.svg Vancouver, Canada 260,341 United
14 Flag of the Netherlands.svg Amsterdam, the Netherlands 256,461 KLM, United
15 Flag of Turkey.svg Istanbul (Ataturk), Turkey 238,282 Turkish Airlines
16 Flag of Hong Kong.svg Hong Kong 234,867 United, Cathay Pacific
17 Flag of Italy.svg Rome (Fiumicino), Italy 216,653 Alitalia, American
18 Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg Beijing (Capital), China 208,202 American, United
19 Flag of Canada.svg Ottawa, Canada 180,892 American, United
20 Flag of Belgium.svg Brussels, Belgium 178,380 American, United
Top 10 domestic destinations (August 2010 - July 2011)[49]
Rank Airport Passengers Carriers
1 New York New York (LaGuardia), New York 1,274,000 American, Delta, United
2 California Los Angeles, California 1,065,000 American, Spirit, United, Virgin America
3 California San Francisco, California 931,000 American, Continental, United, Virgin America
4 Texas Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 883,000 American, Spirit, United
5 Massachusetts Boston, Massachusetts 786,000 American, JetBlue, Spirit, United
6 Minnesota Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota 729,000 American, Delta, United
7 Virginia Washington (National), D.C. 708,000 American, United
8 Colorado Denver, Colorado 707,000 American, United
9 Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 669,000 American, United, US Airways
10 Washington (state) Seattle, Washington 662,000 Alaska, American,Continental, United

Cargo carriers

There are two main cargo areas at O'Hare that have warehouse, build-up/tear-down and aircraft parking facilities. The Southwest Cargo Area, adjacent to Irving Park Road, accommodates over 80% of the airport's all-cargo flights, divided among 9 buildings in two tiers. The North Cargo Area, which is a modest conversion of the former military base (the 1943 Douglas plant area), also receives air freighters. It is adjacent to the northern portion of Bessie Coleman Drive.

Two satellite cargo areas have warehouse and build-up/tear down facilities, but aircraft do not park at these. Freight is trucked to/from aircraft on other ramps. The South Cargo Area is along Mannheim Road. The East Cargo Area, adjacent to Terminal 5, was formerly the airport's only cargo section but has now mostly evolved into an airport support zone.

The Southwest Cargo Area partially lies in the path of one of the new runways (10C/28C). The redevelopment of the airfield will entail moving/replacing this primary cargo hub.

Airlines Destinations
ABX Air Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky
Aerologic Atlanta, Leipzig/Halle
AeroUnion Mexico City
AirBridgeCargo Airlines Amsterdam, Moscow-Domodedovo[50]
Air China Cargo Anchorage, Beijing-Capital
Air France Cargo Dublin, Glasgow-Prestwick, Paris-Charles de Gaulle
Asiana Airlines Seoul-Incheon
Atlas Air Anchorage
British Airways World Cargo operated by
Global Supply Systems
Houston-Intercontinental, London-Stansted, Washington-Dulles
CargoItalia Milan-Malpensa
Cargolux Anchorage, Atlanta, Hong Kong, Indianapolis, Luxembourg, New York-JFK
Cathay Pacific Cargo Amsterdam, Anchorage, Dallas/Fort Worth, Hong Kong, Houston-Intercontinental, San Francisco
China Airlines Anchorage, Taipei-Taoyuan
China Cargo Airlines Shanghai-Pudong
China Southern Airlines Shanghai-Pudong
DHL
EVA Air Anchorage, Taipei-Taoyuan
Evergreen International Airlines
FedEx Express Indianapolis, Memphis, Newark
Great Wall Airlines Anchorage, Shanghai-Pudong
Jade Cargo International Amsterdam, Chengdu, Dubai, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai-Pudong
Kalitta Air Newark, New York-JFK
Korean Air Cargo Seoul-Incheon
Lufthansa Cargo Anchorage, Frankfurt
Lufthansa Cargo operated by
World Air Cargo
Frankfurt
Nippon Cargo Airlines Tokyo-Narita, Anchorage
Polar Air Cargo Anchorage, Tokyo-Narita
Qantas Freight operated by
Atlas Air
Melbourne[51]
Qatar Airways Cargo Amsterdam, Doha[52]
Shanghai Airlines Cargo Anchorage, Shanghai-Pudong
Singapore Airlines Cargo Anchorage, Singapore, Xiamen
Southern Air Anchorage, Seoul-Incheon
UPS Airlines Cologne/Bonn, Columbus-Rickenbacker, Louisville, Philadelphia
World Airways Cargo Baltimore, Hong Kong, Milan
Yangtze River Express Anchorage, Shanghai-Pudong

Facilities

Runways

Runway layout at ORD

With the opening of new runway 9L/27R in November 2008, there are now seven primary air carrier runways, arranged tangentially in three parallel sets. The largest is Runway 10–28, 13,001′ x 150′. Runways 9L, 10, 14L, 14R, 27L, 27R and 28 have Category III instrument landing systems (ILS),[53] allowing trained aircrews to conduct landings with as little as 600 feet (180 m) of horizontal visibility. All other runway approaches except 4L have full Category I ILS. Due to its location and prevailing winds, runway 4L is seldom used for landings. Therefore, it is equipped with a localizer, the horizontal guidance component of an ILS system, but does not have a glideslope, the vertical component.

Originally, all runways at O'Hare intersected each other with the exception of 4R/22L. This creates problems in times of inclement weather, congestion at the airport, or high winds. There have been several aircraft near-collisions at O'Hare in recent years. The ongoing redevelopment, which essentially eliminates active runway intersections, is intended to alleviate collision hazards and delays at O'Hare.

Three of the original 1943 airfield's four runways (14L/32R, 9R/27L, and 4L/22R) have been upgraded to modern standards. Runway 14R/32L was added in 1955, 9R/27L (now designated 10/28) in 1968, 4R/22L in 1971 and the new 9L/27R in 2008. In 2003, the fourth original runway (18/36) was permanently closed; its short length, lack of use, and problematic placement no longer justified continued certification. Runway 18/36 is now shown as taxiway WT on current airport charts.

The ongoing redevelopment, when completed, will remove the two northwest–southeast runways (14/32 L/R), construct four additional east–west runways (10C/28C, 10R/28L, 9L/27R, and 9C/27C), and extend the 2 existing east–west runways (9R/27L and 10L/28R, shown on current charts as 10/28). The two existing northeast–southwest (4/22 L/R) runways will be retained. Currently, one of the four new runways has been constructed (9L/27R), and one of the two extensions (10/28) has been completed. The second new runway (10C/28C) is currently under construction.

In the original airfield configuration, runway 32L was often used for departures in a shortened configuration. Planes accessed the runway from its intersection at taxiway T10 (common) or taxiway M (not common). This shortened the effective length of the runway but allowed operations on runway 10/28 to continue without restriction. The full length of the runway was available upon request, though with the extension of 10/28 it was usually not needed. As part of the ongoing reconfiguration, in May 2010 runway 14R/32L was permanently shortened to 9,685-foot (2,952 m), and it now starts at taxiway M.

O'Hare has a voluntary nighttime (2200–0700) noise abatement program in place.[54]

The runway reconfiguration program at O'Hare will also improve the airport for the A380 Super-Jumbo aircraft. As part of the runway reconfiguration program, on July 5, 2007, the runway previously designated 9R-27L became runway 10–28, and on August 30, 2007, runway 9L/27R became 9R/27L.[55]

On September 25, 2008, a 2,857-foot (871 m) extension to 10/28 was opened.[56]

Access to airport

CTA Blue Line station at O'Hare International Airport

Intra-airport transportation

Airport Transit System with Hilton Hotel in Background

Access within the airport complex can be accomplished using O'Hare's Airport Transit System (ATS), a 2.5 mi (4 km) long automated people mover system that operates 24 hours a day, connecting all four terminals and the remote parking lots. The system began operation on May 6, 1993,[57] and will be soon undergoing a US $90 million enhancement to add 24 new cars and to extend the line to a new remote parking garage.

Other facilities

A large air cargo complex on the southwest side of the field was opened in 1984, replacing most of the old cargo area, which stood where Terminal 5 now exists. This complex sits right in the middle of the footprint for new runway 10C/28C, and is to be replaced by a new facility.

The hangar area has multiple buildings capable of fully enclosing aircraft up to the size of the Boeing 747.

The new North Terminal Air Traffic Control Tower was designed by AECOM (design principal Jose Luis Palacios).

Statistics

Traffic by calendar year
Passenger volume Change over previous year Aircraft operations Cargo tonnage
2000 72,144,244 decrease00.64% 908,989 1,640,524.1
2001 67,448,064 decrease06.51% 911,917 1,413,834.4
2002 66,565,952 decrease01.31% 922,817 1,436,385.7
2003 69,508,672 increase04.40% 928,691 1,601,735.5
2004 75,533,822 increase08.67% 992,427 1,685,808.0
2005 76,581,146 increase01.38% 972,248 1,701,446.1
2006 76,282,212 decrease00.30% 958,643 1,718,011.0
2007 76,182,025 decrease00.15% 926,973 1,690,741.6
2008 70,819,015 decrease07.03% 881,566 1,480,847.4
2009 64,397,782 decrease09.07% 827,899 1,198,426.3
2010 67,026,191 increase03.83% 950,119 1,577,047.8
Source: O'Hare International Airport[58]

Modernization plan

O'Hare's high volume and crowded schedule can lead to long delays and cancellations that, due to the airport being a major hub, can affect air travel across North America. Official reports rank O'Hare as one of the least punctual airports in the United States based on percentage of delayed flights.[59] In 2004, United Airlines and American Airlines agreed to modify their schedules to help reduce congestion caused by clustered arrivals and departures. Because of the air traffic departing, arriving, and near the airport, air traffic controllers at O'Hare and its nearby facilities are among the leaders in the world in terms of number of controlled flights per hour.

City management has committed to a $6 billion capital investment plan to increase the airport's capacity by 60% and decrease delays by an estimated 79 percent.[60] This plan was approved by the FAA in October 2005 and will involve a reconfiguration of the airfield and addition of terminal space. The plan includes the addition of four runways, the lengthening of two existing runways, and the decommissioning of two existing runways in order to give the airfield six parallel runways in a configuration similar to that in Dallas and other large modern hub airports. This plan was very controversial as the added improvements, at the time they were proposed, were expected to increase the airport's air traffic capacity only slightly, given existing FAA rules. Additionally, the southernmost new runway would require the city acquire additional land, which was extremely controversial as residents did not want to move.

The Modernization Plan is now being implemented; an additional runway and Air Traffic Control Tower were commissioned on November 20, 2008. The new north runway, designated 9L/27R, initially served as a foul weather arrival runway, addressing one of O'Hare's primary causes of delay, but now serves as one of three runways that can be used simultaneously for landings. An extension of Runway 10/28 (formerly 9R/27L) to 13,001 feet (3,963 m) was opened in September, 2008, facilitating the shortening and eventual closure of the 13,000 feet (4,000 m) Runway 14R/32L. At the same time, the FAA redesigned departure routes for both O'Hare and Chicago Midway International Airport, increasing the number from three shared by both airports to five from each airport. With the new runway's opening, O'Hare's maximum aircraft arrival capacity increased from 96 planes per hour to 112 planes per hour; United Airlines's senior vice president of operations, Joseph Kolshak, told The Wall Street Journal that within a month of the runway's opening, "they were consistently hitting that."[61]

Design efforts are underway for the remainder of the program, which includes three runway projects, a new western terminal complex and an automated people mover system. The O'Hare Modernization Program submitted an application to the Federal Aviation Administration to use approximately $180 million in Passenger Facility Charges to fund design work, which began in early 2009.

The second new 10,800 by 200 foot runway (10C/28C) is currently under construction.

The modernization plan has required the acquisition of 126 acres (51 ha) of land in Des Plaines, Illinois; construction of runway 27R and the control tower cost $457 million and involved the rerouting of a creek and 14,000,000 cubic yards (11,000,000 m3) of fill to build up an embankment.."[61] 2,800 residents had to be relocated, as well as a cemetery with 900 known graves. The program ultimately is expected to expand the airport's capacity to over 3,800 operations per day, up from the present capacity of 2,700, and will vastly increase passenger throughput. It will also improve the ability of very large aircraft such as the A380 to operate.[citation needed]

Flight caps in place since 2004 expired on October 31, 2008. Ironically, American Airlines eliminated over 60 daily flights at O'Hare because of soaring fuel prices. United announced similar cutbacks. Recent worldwide economic difficulties further complicate the forecasts for airport demand.

After initially opposing the Modernization plan, DuPage County has endorsed the plan citing the creation of jobs, commercial development, and the ability of O'Hare to regain the status as busiest airport.[62]

  existing runway
  new runway
  removed runway

Resistance and alternatives

The neighboring communities of Bensenville and Elk Grove Village have been centers of resistance to the expansion plan due to their proximity to the airport and because some of their residents and businesses will be required to relocate. Bensenville and Elk Grove Village formed the Suburban O'Hare Commission[63] to fight the expansion. So far, they have not had much success. The commission did receive a temporary injunction against portions of the city's expansion project; however, it was soon overturned. The Suburban O'Hare Commission has also been instrumental in pushing for a third regional airport in south suburban Peotone, which it claims would alleviate congestion at O'Hare. However, no airline has committed to the proposed airport, and planning efforts moved very slowly during 2007–08. In 2008 Elk Grove Village ended resistance. They received assurance that a proposed highway would not be built through their business park. In November 2009, Bensenville officially ended all resistance to the expansion, ceasing all legal challenges against the city of Chicago. They received 15 million dollars.[64] It should also be noted that the city of Chicago is facing an issue with a historical cemetery located in the space of their planned runway expansion. Up until recently, the city was removing graves. This stopped when a state court stepped in on behalf of the buried's kin.

In 1995, the Chicago/Gary Airport Compact was signed by the cities of Chicago and Gary, Indiana, creating a new administration for the Gary/Chicago International Airport just across the state line. While markedly smaller than the proposed Peotone site, this airport already has more land and a longer main runway than Midway Airport. Gary is also many miles closer than Peotone to downtown Chicago. In addition public transportation is already in place to the Loop via the South Shore Line. Indiana and the FAA have provided significant funding for a Gary runway expansion, currently under construction.

Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) in Rockford, Illinois has also marketed itself as an alternative for congestion at O'Hare. However, it is at least a 1-1/2 hour trip to Rockford from the Chicago Loop. Currently there is no direct transportation service from downtown Chicago or O'Hare to the Chicago Rockford International Airport, but airline service at the airport continues to grow. Larry Morrissey, the current mayor of Rockford, has pushed for a high-speed rail connection between the two airports to make the Rockford airport a more convenient alternative to O'Hare.

General Mitchell International Airport (MKE) in Milwaukee has consistently attempted to increase its usage by Chicago and Northern Illinois customers. There is a direct Amtrak rail service connecting Chicago with Mitchell Airport. The trains operate seven round trips each day, taking under 75 minutes from the Chicago loop.

See also

References

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

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