The House aviation subcommittee will hold a hearing tomorrow on AOPA-backed legislation (H.R.3479) designed to expand aviation capacity in the Chicago area. That bill includes a provision that would keep Meigs Field open until at least 2026. AOPA will submit testimony to Congress.
" AOPA strongly supports this legislation," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "It ensures another quarter-century of continued operations at Meigs Field, Chicago's flagship general aviation airport."
In testimony to be presented to the subcommittee, Boyer said that the bill reflected the importance of the Chicago airports to the entire national aviation system.
"This is not just an Illinois issue. There is a national benefit to meeting capacity needs by keeping Meigs Field open, expanding O'Hare, and building a new airport at Peotone."
Noting that air traffic counts are quickly returning to pre-September 11 levels, and that more people today are turning to general aviation, Boyer told Congress, "Shutting down a perfectly good airport makes little sense when we are desperately trying to expand capacity.... The 14 general aviation airports in the area, including Meigs Field, are part of the solution to airspace congestion in the Chicago area and the overall system."
The legislation directs the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration to implement a plan for the redesign and reconstruction of Chicago O'Hare International Airport that includes development of a south suburban airport in the Chicago metropolitan region and a provision to prevent the closure of Meigs Field.
Witnesses scheduled to appear before the 2 p.m. hearing include: Illinois representatives Henry J. Hyde, Jerry Weller, and Jesse L. Jackson Jr.; northern Indiana Representative Peter Visclosky; Illinois Governor George Ryan; and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. AOPA Legislative Affairs will cover the hearing and provide further details on the bill's passage by the committee when it occurs.