CHICAGO — Chicago last week officially unveiled O'Hare Airport's newest runway.
The commissioning of the $1.3 billion Runway 10C-28C marked the official completion of the $3.3 billion first phase of the ongoing $8 billion O'Hare Modernization Program to makeover the airport's runways as well as other airport projects. It's the fourth major runway project completed since the makeover was launched in 2008.
"O'Hare is one of our city's key economic engines and the opening of Runway 10C-28C will create thousands of quality jobs for Chicagoans, vastly increase the airport's efficiency and capacity, and further solidify O'Hare as the best connected airport in the U.S. and around the world," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement.
The runway is 10,800 feet long and 200 feet wide and is the first at O'Hare built to accommodate the largest aircraft currently used by airlines. O'Hare is shifting to a parallel runway layout from one where runways intersect. The new pattern is expected to significantly reduce bad weather delays. The new runway will also permit an additional 90,000 flights annually should demand grow.
All three rating agencies recently affirmed Chicago O'Hare International Airport's A level general revenue credit ratings ahead of a new money and refunding sale. The affirmations came despite analyst concerns over the airport's challenges including the ongoing bankruptcy of hub operator American Airlines as well as uncertainty over the timing of future projects and future debt needs under the ongoing OMP.
Standard & Poor's praised management's on-time and on-budget delivery of projects under the first phase of the OMP but said O'Hare's debt needs constrain the ratings at their current levels. The recent sale will help fund the airport's routine capital improvement program and the OMP.
While the airport has now completed the first phase of the OMP, the airlines have agreed only to a scaled back second phase of $1.17 billion with additional projects planned in a follow up phase that still the subject of ongoing negotiations