US FAA grants extension for Midway privatisation

Washington DC
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The US FAA has granted the operators of Chicago Midway airport an extension to submit a new timetable for completing the privatisation application process after the credit crunch thwarted efforts to privatise the facility in 2009.

The deadline to propose a new timeline had been 1 February, but at the city of Chicago's request, the FAA postponed the deadline until 30 April.

"The city is in continuing deliberations regarding the completion of the Midway airport privatisation," Chicago says in an FAA filing submitted today. "The pace and direction continues to be dictated by conditions in the global credit and capital markets. The city intends to complete the privatisation process at the earliest practicable date."

Chicago had intended to privatise Midway and use proceeds of the handover to pay off airport debt, fund city infrastructure projects and shore up Chicago public employee pension funds.

Chicago had secured approval for a 99-year lease from the required minimum of at least 65% of the airlines serving the airport but the $2.5 billion-lease and redevelopment agreement with the consortium Midway Investment and Development Company fell through early in 2009 due to the credit crunch.

As Chicago pursues new bidders for Midway, airports in New Orleans and San Juan, Puerto Rico are also perusing privatisation.