Not Even Close: Chicago City Council Unanimously Approves $2.5 Midway Airport Lease

As reported in my post yesterday, the Chicago City Council’s agenda today included consideration of the $2.5 billion Midway Airport lease, and the final vote was a unanimous 49-0 approval. Next stop: final federal approval, and I can’t envision any minefields or hang-ups there at this point.

By a 49-0 vote, the Chicago City Council approved a $2.5 billion, 99-year lease of Midway Airport to a private operator. Aides to Mayor Richard Daley expect to close the transaction by year’s end. The deal, which now awaits final federal approval, would mark the first time that a major U.S. airport would be run by a private company. The Daley administration has not yet announced how it would spend the $1 billion the lease would yield after airport debt is repaid. Many aldermen hailed the money that they hope to get for public works projects in their wards. [. . .] The Midway vote comes four years after the city privatized the Chicago Skyway toll road for $1.83 billion in what had been the largest such city deal until now. The city also has privatized downtown parking garages and is looking for private operators for parking meters and garbage-sorting facilities.

Thoughts on the implications of Midway from my colleague Bob Poole are here, and more on Midway here and here. Reason’s Airports Research and Commentary Reason’s Annual Privatization Report 2008: Air Transportation (.pdf)