American launches new salvo in O’Hare expansion fight

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CHICAGO — American Airlines is stepping up its fight arguing Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s O’Hare expansion plan is unfair to Chicago’s No. 2 air carrier.

A new website launched continues American’s argument that the current expansion plan favors United by subsidizing five additional gates for United.

The site offers to help people contact Emanuel and City Council members.

American received permission to build five additional gates more than a year ago but the airline paid for that $80 million expansion on its own. The cost of United’s extra gates would be covered by fees paid by all airlines.

Gates are as good as gold for the airlines. American says United’s five additional gates could translate into 45 additional flights per day and as many two million passengers per year.  That could further solidify United’s dominance at O’Hare, drive down competition and drive up ticket prices.

United Airlines released a statement saying:

We negotiated in good faith following the same process we do at all of our hubs in order to continue investing in the communities we serve and enhancing the experience for our customers. This agreement maintains the balance that is in place today at O’Hare and provides all airlines an opportunity to grow in the future. Frankly, American Airlines’ story is both unfortunate and disingenuous. Their contention that there was a last minute change in the process is not only wrong but an outright falsehood.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office says the expansion plan can proceed with or without American’s support.

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