Crain Chicago Business April 03, 2002
> > Northwest withholds O'Hare support
By Paul Merrion
> > Northwest Airlines Inc. is raising concerns about proposed expansion plans
> > at O'Hare International Airport.
> > The Minneapolis-based carrier has listed in writing four issues that need
> > to be addressed before it can support the World Gateway terminal expansion
> > plan as well as federal legislation to codify last December's city-state
> > agreement to build two new runways at O'Hare.
> > So far, senators from Michigan and Northwest's home state of Minnesota,
> > where it has a major international hub, have not given their support to
> > legislation sponsored by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., to lock the O'Hare
> > deal in place.
> > While Northwest's demands are part of the normal give-and-take in
> > negotiating an airport expansion project, its support of the legislation
> > could be crucial if Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill., mounts a filibuster
> > against it when it reaches the Senate floor later this year.
> > "We're not opposed to expansion of O'Hare but we want to make sure it's
> > done in a way that's fair to us," says a spokesman for Northwest, who
> > confirmed the contents of a letter obtained by Crain's Chicago Business.
> > The undated letter drafted by Northwest was addressed to Northwest CEO
> > Richard H. Anderson from the city, American Airlines and United Airlines.
> > "We want to make sure that whatever's in the legislation keeps us whole.
> > We're trying to find a way to support it." The spokesman adds that it was
> > "counterproductive" for the letter to have been leaked at this stage of
> > the negotiations.
> > "Our experience has been that United opposes any expansion plans of other
> > airlines at their hubs, yet expects cooperation from other airlines at its
> > hubs," says the Northwest spokesman. However, "we are still trying to find
> > a way to make this work."
> > American Airlines asked Northwest to explain its position in writing about
> > a month ago, after Northwest expressed concerns that prevented it from
> > supporting the bill, says a spokeswoman for American. A United Airlines
> > spokeswoman declined to comment on the letter, but a source at the Elk
> > Grove Township-based carrier indicates that Northwest's demands are
> > considered excessive.
> > At the city, First Deputy Commissioner of Aviation John Harris says he
> > hasn't been "officially" asked to sign the letter "nor would we expect
> > them to ask" in light of the project's full-fledged support from the Air
> > Transport Assn., the major carriers' industry association.
> > As a price for its support for the bill, Northwest-the airport's fourth
> > largest carrier-wants assurances from the city of Chicago, United and
> > American that it will not be forced to relocate its gates at the E
> > Concourse of Terminal 2. The relocation is a key element of the World
> > Gateway plan.
> > Moving several smaller airlines to a new Terminal 6 would allow United and
> > American to expand their facilities to include customs inspection
> > stations, allowing international and domestic flights to use the same
> > terminal. Currently, all international passengers arriving at O'Hare have
> > to go through the International Terminal and then go to another terminal
> > to catch a connecting flight.
> > Northwest also wants assurances that federal funding for O'Hare will
> > follow normal procedures and will not divert federal airport improvement
> > grants from other airports-something the city has already agreed to spell
> > out in a revised version of the expansion package.
> > And Northwest wants two existing cargo facilities and a hangar at O'Hare,
> > which apparently occupy some of the land needed for new runways, to be
> > replaced at no cost to Northwest.
> > Northwest also wants support from United and American for a terminal
> > expansion project at Japan's Narita Airport.