Last updated: 01:07 PM ET, Fri August 07 2015

Chicago's 'Other' Airport To Get Makeover

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | August 07, 2015

Chicago's 'Other' Airport To Get Makeover

PHOTO: The runway at Chicago's Midway International Airport. (Courtesy of Thinkstock)

Chicago does have another major international airport beside O’Hare, you know, and the city is about to make a major investment in it.

The office of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the largest investment plan for Midway International Airport in nearly a decade, as the facility will receive $248 million for an expansion of the concession facilities, the terminal parking garage, and security checkpoints – addressing concerns that have been raised by business travelers and tourists for years.

“Midway is more than an airport. It is an important economic engine for the City of Chicago so with this modernization we are making an essential investment in the future of Midway but also the future of Chicago,” Emanuel said in a statement. “These enhancements will create jobs for Chicago’s residents, provide an improved experience for travelers from the garage to the gate, and ensure that our world-class city has two world-class airports.”

The city believes it can create 1,700 new jobs with the expansion project.

The city intends to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a single-entity concessions operator in September. Under the project, concessions areas, stores, and restaurants will be renovated, shopping, dining, lounge facilities, spa services, and medical services will be added. The new concession areas will also feature iconic Chicago brands.

An expansion of Midway’s security checkpoint area will address the bottleneck that frequently occurs in the current security area, a frustration to travelers. A new 80,000-square-foot security hall will be created, the existing pedestrian bridge over Cicero Avenue will be increased from 60 feet to 300 feet, and 20,000 square feet of new concessions space will be added in an optimal location. The terminal parking garage expansion, which is in the design phase, will add four levels and 1,400 premium parking spaces to the terminal garage — making it easier for travelers to get in and out of the airport quickly.

Concessions revenues are projected to double by 2019, increasing revenue for the city

“Our proposal will make Midway Airport more efficient and more customer friendly for years to come,” Aviation Commissioner Ginger S. Evans said. “In order for our airports, and our city, to thrive we need to remain competitive – and that’s what this plan will achieve.”

The tentative schedule for the program is to issue the RFP in early September, receive bids through mid-December 2015, conduct evaluation of those bids in first quarter 2016 and advance the proposal in the City Council in second quarter 2016.

Southwest Airlines is the largest flight carrier at Midway, and Midway is the largest market in the airline’s network.

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