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Midway Airport privatization: Need to repay federal funds if city asset is sold

WASHINGTON–Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is drafting legislation to insure if Midway Airport is sold to private interests–the federal government be repaid $372 million in federal money poured into the Chicago airport before City Hall gets any of that money.

Mayor Daley’s plan to privatize Midway fell apart in 2009 when a $2.5 billion deal melted down with the rest of the economy. Mayoral front-runner Rahm Emanuel is against selling city assets to pay for one-time operating revenues. Though Daley is not pursuing another Midway deal, the FAA has given the city until July 31 to submit a privatization plan. A new mayor takes office in May.

There should be “a lien on any future privatization” Durbin said on Thursday, discussing the Chicago airports at an Illinois constituent breakfast.

“if we are to continue federal investments, we ought to say to the local units of government, ‘cut us in on the deal,’ so that we can get some of the benefit,” Durbin said.