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Chicago airports are busier than ever

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Both airports saw 105 million passengers in 2018


Chicago airports have been quite busy this year—from planning for a new terminal to improving service and routes. The effort has pushed O’Hare International Airport to the top for most arrivals and departures in the country.

That means O’Hare is the busiest airport—ahead of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, according to new data from the FAA reported by the Chicago Mayor’s Office. O’Hare operated more 900,000 flights which hasn’t happened since 2007.

Combined with Midway, it was another record-breaking year for Chicago airports. More than 105 million passengers traveled through the two airports in 2018, according to preliminary data. O’Hare saw 83.4 million passengers, 4.5 percent more than last year, and Midway had 22 million passengers, according to the mayor’s office.

The record passenger numbers are a result of more international travel largely from new routes added at O’Hare. More than 50 new domestic and international cities in total were added at both airports in 2018, including global destinations such as Bogota, New Zealand, and Ethiopia.

“The record number of passengers in 2018 is a testament to the investments we are making to build Chicago’s aviation future,” said Mayor Emanuel in a statement “With more people visiting Chicago every year, our modernization programs at O’Hare and Midway will keep passengers connected to our two leading gateway airports, and will fuel new opportunities for the City and the region for years to come.”

Modernization projects are happening at both O’Hare and Midway—most notably O’Hare’s $8.5 billion plan to expand over the next decade which includes a new airfield, terminal, gates, and passenger perks. Midway’s future improvements are budgeted at $400 million. It includes more restaurants, an upgraded passenger screening experience, and updated parking infrastructure.