For Immediate Release

June 16, 2008
Contact: Tony Molinaro or Liz Cory
Phone: (847) 294-7849

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Acting Administrator Robert Sturgell today announced the elimination of flight caps at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. He made the announcement with Mayor Richard Daley at O’ Hare.

The agency also announced O’Hare has been designated as an International Air Transport Association (IATA) Level 2 airport, which will require air carriers to continue providing their schedules six months in advance. This will let the FAA aggressively monitor potential congestion and take appropriate actions to prevent congestion from occurring.

“The City of Chicago has outdone itself when it comes to boosting capacity,” Acting Administrator Sturgell said. “The extension of an existing runway two months ahead of schedule, together with the completion of a new runway later this year, will allow for an additional four to five arrivals per hour.”

In 2004, arrivals at O’Hare were capped at 88 during most hours of the day to reduce congestion at the world’s second-busiest airport. When the new runway is finished later this year, 56-70 more arrivals will be added throughout the day, and this additional capacity is expected to result in a modest decrease in delayed flights.

Sturgell has maintained consistently that implementing congestion management — such as caps — should be the last resort for managing congestion and delay. By working with the City of Chicago, O’Hare will increase capacity so the airport can effectively handle unconstrained demand.

In addition to increasing capacity, today’s move enables airlines to adjust winter schedules to respond to evolving market conditions.

“The measures are also good news for the nation’s airlines, which are struggling with record fuel prices,” Sturgell said. “By adding capacity and reducing delays, we are taking an important step that will bring much-needed relief to all Americans who rely on air transportation.”