The future of Chicagoland’s economy is closely tied to the future of O’Hare Airport, one of our greatest assets. That’s why I believe Mayor Johnson’s Administration needs to work together with the airlines to conduct a clear-eyed reevaluation of the 2018 Global Gateway plan to expand and modernize O’Hare.

The $8.7 billion project was started five years ago. Then, the pandemic changed our world — it altered the way people travel, it sent inflation skyrocketing, and it exposed our fragile global supply chain. Now, O’Hare’s development is running years late and the estimated budget currently tops $12 billion, an increase of more than 40% — and that money must come from somewhere.

The problem is, O’Hare is already very expensive for airlines such as United and American, which employ more than 25,000 workers across Chicagoland. Indeed, the airport’s cost per emplaned passenger is already one of the highest in the country. If this project continues at its unsustainable rate, ticket prices will increase for passengers and more airlines could simply decide to reroute their flights through airports like Dallas, Charlotte, Denver, and elsewhere. It will be tougher to attract and retain businesses, and it will mean loss of jobs.

The impact on O’Hare, and subsequently Chicagoland, could be devastating.

With this new normal in mind, I believe we need to get serious and work together to make sure we take care of one of our city’s greatest assets at an affordable cost. It is absolutely critical for the future of our economy.

Jack Lavin, President & CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce