The Honorable Ernest Hollings
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairman Hollings:
The more than 380,000 members of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), including 4,107 in South Carolina, ask for your support on an issue important to the nation's air transportation system—the fate of Chicago's Meigs Field. Please co-sponsor S.1786, introduced by Senator Durbin on Friday, December 7, 2001. Meigs Field is slated for closure February 2002; however, Senator Durbin's bill would permit the operation of this vital and essential Chicago airport for another 25 years.
AOPA was gratified that the closure of Meigs was addressed when Illinois Governor George Ryan and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley sat down to resolve the conflicts surrounding Chicago's airports. And we believe that it is necessary to codify their agreement so that Chicago's airports, which are vital to the nation's economic health, are assured of continued operation and health. Although AOPA has little stake in the O'Hare and Peotone issues, we do feel strongly about Meigs Field.
Meigs Field, an historic landmark on the shores of Lake Michigan, has been an important air transportation access point to Chicago's business district and government office buildings and an essential part of its airport system for more than 40 years. AOPA members throughout the United States see this airport as an "icon," and its closure would be seen as a harbinger for closure of these pilots' home airports. With approximately 50,000 operations per year, Meigs serves as an important "reliever" airport for business and general aviation aircraft to congested Midway and O'Hare airports. Its closure would affect air traffic patterns throughout the Chicago area and nationwide. If this airport were to close, where are these flights to go? Shutting down this airport is analogous to eliminating a viable off-ramp from a congested highway.
To get further information on S.1786, please contact Pat Souders in Senator Durbin's office. If you need additional information about Meigs Field or our support of S.1786, please do not hesitate to contact Julia Krauss in AOPA's Washington office or me at 202/479-4050.
Phil Boyer, President
December 11, 2001