Emanuel, Airline Execs to Meet Monday


A Monday summit between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and top airline executives is expected to include discussion of the O'Hare expansion project and privatization of Midway International Airport.

Leaders from United, American, US Airways and Southwest airlines are expected to be among the attendees.

The mayor often touts the city's central location and expansive transit network as positive factors in maintaining and improving the regions economic viability. In June, he and United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek announced 1,300 new jobs were being added to Willis Tower.

"We have to... constantly ask fresh questions, because I don’t want to just sit on the lead. I want to expand it," Emanuel said.

Likely topping the agenda is how to continue expanding O'Hare International Airport. Political heavyweights in March helped wrangle a deal and sidestep a lawsuit to fund $1.17 billion-worth of the project. Another $2.25 billion worth of construction has been discussed but tabled until no later than March 2013.

And while he doesn't currently support the move, the possible privatization of Midway may also be discussed.

"We have a period of time to make that decision," Emanuel said Friday. "We have some things that are going to come before it. At the right time, I'll look at that. As you know, as I said before, I'm against privatization. That doesn't mean you can't monetize assets, but as it relates to privatization, I'm not part of that. That's not part of the discussion."

A $2.5 billion deal that would have made Midway the first major airport to go private collapsed more than two years ago.

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