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Controllers Support Additional Runways at O'Hare, Commend Senate Committee for Its Proactive Role in Capacity Issue - (6/15/2001)

WASHINGTON – Encouraged by a mounting sense of urgency to solve Chicago’s air traffic congestion problems, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association supports the Senate Commerce Committee’s call for immediate steps to increasing capacity.

The committee, which is meeting today in Chicago for a field hearing, has described the capacity issue in that key area as a problem that has to be fixed. Controllers agree. NATCA President John Carr worked as a controller at the Chicago TRACON for a decade and knows full well the importance of O’Hare International Airport to the nation’s aviation system and the crucial need to build new runways.

“O’Hare is the straw that stirs the National Airspace System drink,” Carr said. “We support additional runways at O’Hare to handle the current levels of traffic as well as anticipated future growth. The ripple effect of O’Hare on the rest of the system is tremendous; congestion there leads to delays at airport across the country.”

NATCA looks forward to working with the committee, the Federal Aviation Administration, the pilots, airlines, airports and other interested groups to develop and implement concrete solutions. Controllers are eager to be part of the solution.

“There is no question that increased airport capacity will have a significant impact on reducing delays, and capacity can be increased through construction,” Carr said. “Fifty miles of concrete poured at our nation’s 25 busiest airports will solve most of our aviation delays. A new runway can allow 30 to 40 more operations per hour. NATCA commends the committee for taking a proactive role in the debate over aviation delays and airport construction.”

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