This weekend, American Airlines and the city of Chicago opened five new gates at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. The new gates are located in American’s L Concourse in Terminal 3. The gates have been nicknamed the “stinger” gates and will be used primarily by American Eagle flights. The new gates add 41,000 square feet of room to American’s footprint in Chicago.
The expansion is the first major expansion at O’Hare in 25 years, and increases the number of American gates in Chicago to 71. The expansion took only 20 months to complete at a cost of $78 million. The city is calling the opening the first step in a recently announced $8.7 billion dollar expansion and renovation to the airport. The expansion was paid for by American Airlines.
The new gates will help American improve connections and improve the airline’s on-time performance at one of its largest hubs. The new gates will also provide expanded concession opportunities for passengers travelling on American. The opening also marked the start of a new lease period for American Airlines at Chicago. The airline’s previous 35-year lease was replaced with a new lease announced with O’Hare’s expansion and renovation.
The new expansion comes after a tense period between American and the City of Chicago. When the large expansion was announced, American initially was opposed to the deal. They accused the city and main competitor United Airlines of colluding to give United an advantage in the Windy City. Both the city and United denied any secret deal between the two, and American dropped their opposition to the deal in March.
The expansion comes at a pivotal time for both American and the city. The city has been losing its grip on the international market, seeing the growth rate for new international flights slow compared to other major cities. The renovation is supposed to place the 78-year-old airport in competition with newer and more modern airports across the country. American has been slowly losing its grip on the Windy City.
The airline has attempted to regain its foothold with expansion of both the airport and new routes. American recently started service to Venice, Italy and Vancouver, Canada. Oneworld partner British Airways has also started Airbus A380 service to the airport, the first regularly scheduled A380 flight to Chicago. With the expansion plans in progress, the future is looking bright for both American and the City of Chicago.
This story was updated on Thursday, May 17 at 8:53 p.m. ET to correct an error that stated Chicago O’Hare is American’s second largest hub which is incorrect.
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