Midway International Airport — Chicago's second airport, located on the city's southwest side — is playing catch-up. The city in February approved the final parts of a multiyear, $248 million modernization plan to expand the airport as well as its retail options, security operations and parking facilities.
The move to make the city-owned airport a more inviting experience for the millions of people who pass through the facility every year is a priority that Chicago officials, like other airport operators throughout the country, recognize can be put off no longer.
Midway's quarter-billion-dollar gamble comes as many older, larger airports in major U.S. cities find themselves at a financial disadvantage relative to a growing legion of regional upstarts with modern amenities and consumer-specific conveniences that are boosting bottom lines.
The trend has sent a clear message to big legacy operators such as Midway: Get with the times, or watch your margins shrivel in an increasingly lean and financially challenging passenger-airline industry.