CHICAGO Oct 17 Chicago's O'Hare International
Airport opened a new runway on Thursday, which the city hopes
can cut delays by nearly half, and allow for nearly 90,000
additional annual flights as demand grows.
The 10,800-foot (3,292-meter) runway, built over the site of
a former cemetery, is part of the airport's $8 billion
modernization project. When the expansion is complete, O'Hare
expects to have six east-west parallel runways and two
O'Hare handles the second largest number of passengers in
the nation after Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International
Airport, according to the Airports Council International. It has
been notorious for delays due to congestion and Chicago's often
For the 12 months ending July, 68.3 percent of O'Hare's
departures were on time, compared to 72.1 for all major
airports, according to U.S. Department of Transportation
The modernization project has already added one other
runway, expanded another and added a new traffic control tower.
DePaul University transportation professor Joseph
Schwieterman noted that the first new runway primarily served to
improve operations when the weather got bad, but this new one is
"There are exciting opportunities for new services,
particularly by low-cost carriers," said Schwieterman. "You can
envision a new carrier muscling its way into O'Hare, with a
boost in price competition."
The new 10C-28C runway is 200 feet (61 meters) wide and
Chicago's first "Group VI" capable runway, meaning it can
accommodate the largest aircraft, including the Boeing 747-8 and
the A380. Traffic at O'Hare will now primarily flow to and from
the east and west, which the city claims will increase maximum
arrival and departure rates in all weathers, according to the
Not everyone is happy with the addition - neighborhood
groups have complained that the new runway will increase noise
pollution and air in Chicago's Northwest Side neighborhoods.