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A mysterious ice chunk fell on a Chicago home around 7:52pm. The house happens to be in the flight plan for one of O’Hare’s runway. So, the obvious culprit – a leaking plane? There are other possible theories like meteorite, alien space ship, etc. but obviously a leaking plane makes the most sense.

My first question – did the ice come from the lavatory wastes? Since it doesn’t have the blue color, I would assume no!

From Mizozo.com

“The whole house shook,” she said outside the North Wolcott Avenue home, while her son held up baseball-size ice chunks in a plastic bag. The falling object caved in the corner of their 5-year-old roof dormer and showered ice through their front yard as they watched TV a few feet away. “I thought the chimney fell. My husband thought maybe the ‘L’ fell off the tracks.”

FAA is looking into it.

What do you guys think?

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New runways will be opened at three major US Airports – Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, Washington DC’s Dulles International Airport and Seattle’s Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The propose cost for the new runways is around $450 million (Chicago), $350 million (Washington DC) and +$1 billion (Seattle). The runways are supposed to reduce the current delays at the airports and provide capacity for future increases in demand. 

These are great moves for the airline industry. But there is a problem – since most of the airlines have reduced their capacities and there is a weakening demand due to the current recession, the new runways might not be of much use in the near future.

Personally, I think of all the airports, New York’s Airports (Newark, LaGuardia and JFK) and Philadelphia’s International Airport can all definitely use an additional runway. 


Some facts from CNN

Washington Dulles International Airport will get a fourth runway, its first runway addition since the airport opened in 1962.
Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport’s new runway is part of a
massive, multi-billion dollar modernization program. Previously, six of
the airport’s seven runways intersected. When the entire project is
completed in 2014, the airport will have eight runways in parallel
configurations considered safer and more efficient.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s new runway is being especially
welcomed because of the region’s notoriously wet climate. The airport’s
third runway will allow planes to take off and land two abreast during
inclement weather. The current runways are too close to allow
simultaneous operations in foul weather. Airport officials claim the
new runway will cut delays in half.

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A lot of European airports went private years ago, but in US, the airports are still operated and owned by the local or state government. Chicago’s Midway Airport is the first major hub to apply for privatization since the “Congress established a pilot program in 1996 to explore the use of private operators at commercial airports“.

Privatization of other Airports
Interestingly there were 5 other smaller airports with the application, but 4 applications were withdrawn and 1 was terminated.

The Bids and the Winner
Five consortiums from US, France, Australia, Germany, Canada and Spain submitted their bids for the Midway. But Midway Investment and Development Company, LLC (MidCo), “a consortium consisting of US-based Citi Infrastructure Investors and
John Hancock Life Insurance Co and Canada’s YVR Airport Services Ltd.,
which owns and operates 18 airports on three continents
“, outbid all the rest.

Benefit to the City
The city of Chicago is reported to net 2.5 billion dollars from the privatization.

Current Status
The 99-year lease of Chicago’s secondary airport, Midway, must still be
approved by the city council and federal regulators but officials
expressed confidence it would pass.
” This is supposed to happen on October 8th 2008 and then if passed, FAA requires 60+ days to review the application.

Chicago’s other privatization efforts
“It was the first city to lease a major piece of infrastructure in
2005 with a 1.8 billion dollar deal for the right to manage a key toll
bridge for 99 years. In February, the city offered up its 360,000
parking meters for lease after having rented out four of its parking
garages to private operators.”

Personally, I think it is a good opportunity for the city to make some money and let an outside company handle the airport’s operations. And overall, the city still operates and owns the larger airport of O’Hare in the region.

Please Note – All Italics from AFP Story
 

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In 2004, due to pressure from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airlines at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, nation’s second busiest airport, had to limit the number of landings from 100 to 88 per hour. FAA on Monday June 16th 2008 announced that it s going to remove the cap saying that “new runways will reduce congestion at the airport”.

Currently due to record high fuel prices, most of the airlines are cutting back capacity and hence the lift does not seem to benefit any airline. At worse, other airlines like Virgin America and Southwest Airlines which still have a growth plan might end up back filing the capacity cuts.


American Airlines is Disappointed

From Dallas News

“We had asked to
keep the caps on another year in order to see if that action would make
O’Hare operate with acceptable dependability for an extended period
before the FAA increased the number of operations.”


Any Good for the Passengers?
From Chicago Tribune

Yet, to the likely dismay of weary air travelers, the decision is
unlikely to lead to less crowded planes or fewer flight delays, despite
the opening of a new runway in November that Chicago contends will
boost the airport’s capacity.”

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Earlier I had blogged on how the merged airlines would look.

Seems like the merger is getting more heat. Currently, there are rumors about –

  • Headquarter in – Chicago IL (same current United Airlines’ Headquarter)
  • Management Team – US Airways (with CEO Doug Parker and President Scott Kirby)
  • Savings of – At least $1.5 billion
  • Cash Cushion (very important for accessing bankruptcy risk) – $5.3 billion
  • Size – Second largest Airline after Delta + Northwest.

US Airways (old – sans/pre America West) and United Airlines tried to merge earlier in 2000 (talks in 1994) which was turned down by regulation committees.

Read more in Chicago Tribune.

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