Officials Sneak Out of Closed-Door Airline Summit

What went on during Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Monday morning summit with top airline executives?

Emanuel said a system for routing jets was discussed, as was training an educated workforce and creating jobs. But the executives, seen sneaking out of the mayor's office after an hour-long discussion, weren't talking. They left through an inner office door to slip away from the media.

When Ward Room spotted one exec in the hallway, she refused to comment.

The closed-door meeting was expected to include discussion of the O'Hare expansion project and possible privatization of Midway International Airport. Leaders from Boeing, AAR Corp, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and the Chicago Department of Aviation were in attendance.

Emanuel called the discussion "wide-ranging." The main focus, he said, was cooperation between private sector companies and the city to create jobs, economic growth and job training programs. They also discussed regulatory frameworks, he said, and financial conditions in the airline industry.

“The aviation industry is crucial to Chicago’s economic future,” said Emanuel in a statement. “Our leadership in this space is dependent upon strong cooperation between the city and the leading aviation companies, and we are committed to growing these relationships and working together."

The continuing expansion of O'Hare International Airport was expected to be a main topic of the meeting. In March, a deal was reached to sidestep a lawsuit to fund $1.17 billion of the project. Another $2.25 billion worth of construction has been discussed but tabled until no later than March 2013.

The possible privatization of Midway may also have been discussed, though Emanuel said Friday he doesn't currently support the move.

"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."

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