AOPA says loss of Meigs injunction represents potential loss for Chicago, airline passengers, and general aviation alike
A federal judge September 27 turned down the request of AOPA and others for a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction that would have kept Chicago’s lakefront Meigs Field airport operating past October 1.
The decision included a stay, however, and the parties agreed that demolition would not begin prior to close of business October 2, to allow a possible appeal.
“The suit filed by AOPA and others was a last-ditch effort to save Meigs in the face of incredible odds against us,” said Phil Boyer, president of the 340,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
“Closing Meigs will be a loss for the citizens of Chicago, for airline passengers, and for general aviation. One of Chicago’s unique transportation and business resources may be demolished, and the effects will be felt at other Chicago airports, especially Midway.
“What’s really disturbing is that the case may have turned on FAA’s non-defense of this crucial and symbolic downtown airport.”
AOPA, with six other plaintiffs, filed suit September 11 against the city of Chicago, the Chicago Park District, and the FAA to stop demolition of the airport. The state of Illinois joined this suit and filed two others of its own to prevent Chicago from converting Meigs Field into a park at a cost of $27 million.
The plaintiffs argued that replacing Meigs with a park would violate state and federal airport grant agreements and would significantly harm the environment, thus requiring an environmental impact statement before demolition of the Meigs runway.
“Chicago and the nation need Meigs Field. If this represents the end for Meigs, it is a dark day for air transportation in America, perhaps the end of an era, and a loss we will all come to regret,” said AOPA’s Boyer.
“AOPA will continue to fight for general aviation and reliever airports in cities nationwide. Any politician who regards this as the start of open season on downtown and close-in airports will have AOPA to deal with,” Boyer said.
“By the same token, Meigs is a wake-up call for the entire aviation community. Airports are perishable commodities.”
Members of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association constitute more than half of all pilots in the United States.
Write to the mayor at: Mayor Richard M. Daley, City Hall, 121 North Lasalle St., Chicago, IL 60602.
October 1, 1996