O'Hare International Airport

In this article, we are going to explore the fascinating world of O'Hare International Airport and discover its impact on different aspects of everyday life. Whether we are talking about O'Hare International Airport's influence on today's society, its importance in history, its relevance in today's world, or its impact on the future, it is undeniable that O'Hare International Airport plays a fundamental role in our lives. Throughout these pages, we will examine different perspectives and analyze how O'Hare International Airport has shaped and will continue to shape our world. So get ready to embark on an exciting journey in which we will explore the multiple facets of O'Hare International Airport and its implications in our reality.

Chicago O'Hare International Airport
Summary
Airport typePublic
Owner/OperatorChicago Department of Aviation
ServesChicago metropolitan area
LocationO'Hare, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
OpenedFebruary 1944 (1944-02)
Hub for
Focus city forPolar Air Cargo
Operating base for
Elevation AMSL668 ft / 204 m
Coordinates41°58′43″N 87°54′17″W / 41.97861°N 87.90472°W / 41.97861; -87.90472
Websiteflychicago.com/ohare
Maps
FAA airport diagram
FAA airport diagram
Map
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
4L/22R 7,500 2,286 Asphalt
4R/22L 8,075 2,461 Asphalt
9L/27R 7,500 2,286 Concrete
9C/27C 11,245 3,427 Concrete
9R/27L 11,260 3,432 Asphalt/concrete
10L/28R 13,000 3,962 Asphalt/concrete
10C/28C 10,800 3,292 Concrete
10R/28L 7,500 2,286 Concrete
Helipads
Number Length Surface
ft m
H1 200 61 Concrete
Statistics (2023)
Passenger volume73,894,226
Aircraft movements720,582
Cargo (metric tons)1,906,462.5
Source: O'Hare International Airport

Chicago O'Hare International Airport (IATA: ORD, ICAO: KORD, FAA LID: ORD) is a major international airport serving Chicago, Illinois, located on the city's Northwest Side, approximately 17 miles (27 km) northwest of the Loop business district. Operated by the Chicago Department of Aviation and covering 7,627 acres (3,087 ha), O'Hare has non-stop flights to 214 destinations in North America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Oceania, and the North Atlantic region as of November 2022. As of 2023, O'Hare is considered the world's most connected airport. It is also U.S.A.'s 4th busiest airport, and 7th biggest airport.

Designed to be the successor to Chicago's Midway International Airport, itself once nicknamed the "busiest square mile in the world," O'Hare began as an airfield serving a Douglas manufacturing plant for C-54 military transports during World War II. It was renamed Orchard Field Airport in the mid-1940s and assigned the IATA code ORD. In 1949, it was renamed after aviator Edward "Butch" O'Hare, the U.S. Navy's first Medal of Honor recipient during that war. As the first major airport planned after World War II, O'Hare's innovative design pioneered concepts such as concourses, direct highway access to the terminal, jet bridges, and underground refueling systems.

O'Hare became famous during the jet age, holding the distinction as the world's busiest airport by passenger traffic from 1963 to 1998. It still ranks as one the busiest airports in the world, according to the Airports Council International rankings. In 2019, O'Hare had 919,704 aircraft movements, averaging 2,520 per day, the most of any airport in the world in part because of a large number of regional flights. On the ground, road access to the airport is offered by airport shuttle, bus, the Chicago "L", or taxis. Interstate 190 (Kennedy Expressway) goes directly into the airport. O'Hare is a hub for American Airlines and United Airlines (which is headquartered in Willis Tower), as well as an operating base for Spirit Airlines.

History

Establishment and defense efforts

Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat on display in O'Hare's Terminal 2, restored in the markings of "Butch" O'Hare's plane

Soon after the opening of Chicago Municipal Airport in 1926, the City of Chicago realized more airport capacity would be needed. The city government investigated various sites in the 1930s but made little progress before America's entry into World War II.

O'Hare began as a manufacturing plant for Douglas C-54 Skymasters during World War II. The site was known as Orchard Place, previously a small German-American farming community. The 2 million square feet (190,000 m2) plant, in the northeast corner of what is now the airport, needed easy access to the workforce of the nation's second-largest city, as well as its railroads and location far from enemy threat. 655 C-54s were built at the plant, more than half of all produced. The airfield, from which the C-54s flew out, was known as Douglas Airport; initially, it had four 5,500-foot (1,700 m) runways. Less known is the fact that it was the location of the Army Air Force's 803rd Specialized Depot, a unit charged with storing many captured enemy aircraft; a few representatives of this collection would eventually be transferred to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum.

Douglas Company's contract ended with the war's conclusion. Douglas considered building airliners at Orchard but chose to concentrate civil production at its headquarters in Santa Monica, California. With the departure of Douglas, the complex took the name Orchard Field Airport, and was assigned the IATA code ORD.

The United States Air Force used the field extensively during the Korean War; the airport then had no scheduled airline service. Although not its primary base in the area, the Air Force used O'Hare as a fighter base; it was home to the 62nd Fighter-Interceptor Squadron flying North American F-86 Sabres from 1950 to 1959. By 1960, the need for O'Hare as an active duty fighter base was diminishing, just as commercial business was picking up at the airport. The Air Force removed active-duty units from O'Hare and turned the station over to Continental Air Command, enabling them to base reserve and Air National Guard units there. As a result of a 1993 agreement between the City and the Department of Defense, the reserve base was closed on April 1, 1997, ending its career as the home of the 928th Airlift Wing and of the 126th Air Refueling Wing in 1999. At that time, the remaining 357-acre (144 ha) site came under the ownership of the Chicago Department of Aviation.

Early commercial development

In 1945, Chicago mayor Edward Kelly established a board to choose the site of a new airport to meet future demand. After considering various proposals, the board decided upon the Orchard Field site and acquired most of the federal government property in March 1946. The military retained a small parcel of property on the site and the right to use 25% of the airfield's operating capacity for free.

Ralph H. Burke devised an airport master plan based on the pioneering idea of what he called "split finger terminals", allowing a terminal building to be attached to "airline wings" (concourses), each providing space for gates and planes. (Pre-war airport designs had favored ever-larger single terminals, exemplified by Berlin's Tempelhof.) Burke's design also included underground refueling, direct highway access to the front of terminals, and direct rail access from downtown, all of which are utilized at airports worldwide today. O'Hare was the site of the world's first jet bridge in 1958, and successfully adapted slip form paving, developed for the nation's new Interstate highway system, for seamless concrete runways.

In 1949, the City renamed the facility O'Hare Airport to honor Edward "Butch" O'Hare, the U.S. Navy's first flying ace and Medal of Honor recipient in World War II. Its IATA code (ORD) remained unchanged, however, resulting in O'Hare being one of the few IATA codes bearing no connection to the airport's name or metropolitan area.

Arrival of passenger service and subsequent growth

Scheduled passenger service began in 1955, but growth was slow at first. Although Chicago had invested over $25 million in O'Hare, Midway remained the world's busiest airport and airlines were reluctant to move until highway access and other improvements were completed. The April 1957 Official Airline Guide listed 36 weekday departures from O'Hare, while Midway had 414. Improvements began to attract the airlines: O'Hare's first international terminal opened in August 1958, and by April 1959 the airport had expanded to 7,200 acres (2,900 ha) with new hangars, terminals, parking and other facilities. The expressway link to downtown Chicago, now known as the Kennedy Expressway, was completed in 1960. And new Terminals 2 and 3, designed by C. F. Murphy and Associates, opened on January 1, 1962.

The biggest factor driving airlines to relocate their operations from Midway to O'Hare was the jet airliner; the first scheduled jet at O'Hare was an American 707 from New York to Chicago to San Francisco on March 22, 1959. One-mile-square (2.6-kilometer-square) Midway had no space for the runways that 707s and DC-8s required. Airlines had been reluctant to move to O'Hare, but they naturally did not want to split their operations: in July 1962, the last fixed-wing scheduled airline flight in Chicago moved from Midway to O'Hare. Until United returned in July 1964, Midway's only scheduled airline was Chicago Helicopter Airways. The arrival of Midway's traffic quickly made O'Hare the world's busiest airport, serving 10 million passengers annually. Within two years, that number would double, with Chicagoans boasting that more people passed through O'Hare in 12 months than Ellis Island had processed in its entire existence. O'Hare remained the world's busiest airport until it was eclipsed by Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in 1998.

O'Hare had four runways in 1955; 8,000 foot (2,400 m) runway 14R/32L opened in 1956 and was extended to 11,600 feet (3,500 m) a few years later, allowing nonstops to Europe. Runway 9R/27L (now 10L/28R) opened in 1968 and runway 4R/22L in 1971.

Post-deregulation developments

Reconstructed Brachiosaurus skeleton, formerly in the Field Museum, exhibited in Concourse B since 1999

In the 1980s, after passage of US airline deregulation, the first major change at O'Hare occurred when TWA left Chicago for St. Louis as its main mid-continent hub. Although TWA had a large hangar complex at O'Hare and had started Constellation nonstops to Paris in 1958, by the time of deregulation its operation was losing $25 million a year under competition from United and American. Northwest likewise ceded O'Hare to the competition and shifted to a Minneapolis/St. Paul and Detroit-centered network by the early 1990s after acquiring Republic Airlines in 1986. Delta maintained an O'Hare hub for some time, even commissioning a new Concourse L in 1983. Ultimately, Delta found competing from an inferior position at O'Hare too expensive and closed its Chicago hub in the 1990s, concentrating its upper Midwest operations at Cincinnati.

The Terminal 1 underground tunnel connects Concourses B and C

The dominant hubs established at O'Hare in the 1980s by United and American continue to operate today. United developed a new two-concourse Terminal 1 (dubbed "The Terminal for Tomorrow"), designed by Helmut Jahn. It was built between 1985 and 1987 on the site of the original Terminal 1; the structure, which includes 50 gates, is best known for its curved glass forms and the connecting underground tunnel between Concourses B and C. The tunnel is illuminated with a neon installation titled Sky's the Limit (1987) by Canadian artist Michael Hayden, which plays an airy, slow-tempo version of Rhapsody in Blue. American renovated and expanded its existing facilities in Terminal 3 from 1987 to 1990; those renovations feature a flag-lined entrance hall to Concourses H/K.

The demolition of the original Terminal 1 in 1984 to make way for Jahn's design forced a "temporary" relocation of international flights into facilities called "Terminal 4" on the ground floor of the airport's central parking garage. International passengers were then transferred by bus to and from their aircraft. Relocation finally ended with the completion of the 21-gate International Terminal in 1993 (now called Terminal 5); it contains all customs facilities. Its location, on the site of the original cargo area and east of the terminal core, necessitated the construction of a peoplemover, which connected the terminal core with the new terminal as well as remote rental and parking lots.

Following deregulation and the buildup of the American and United hubs, O'Hare faced increasing delays from the late 1980s onward due to its inefficient runway layout; the airfield had remained unchanged since the addition of its last new runway (4R/22L) in 1971. O'Hare's three pairs of angled runways were meant to allow takeoffs into the wind, but they came at a cost: the various intersecting runways were both dangerous and inefficient. Official reports at the end of the 1990s ranked O'Hare as one of the worst-performing airports in the United States based on the percentage of delayed flights. In 2001, the Chicago Department of Aviation committed to an O'Hare Modernization Plan (OMP). Initially estimated at $6.6 billion, the OMP was to be paid by bonds issued against the increase in the federal passenger facility charge enacted that year and federal airport improvement funds. The modernization plan was approved by the FAA in October 2005 and involved a complete reconfiguration of the airfield. The OMP included the construction of four new runways, lengthening two existing runways, and decommissioning three old runways to provide O'Hare with six parallel runways and two crosswind runways.

The OMP was the subject of legal battles, both with suburbs who feared the new layout's noise implications as well as with survivors of persons interred in a cemetery the city proposed to relocate; some of the cases were not resolved until 2011. These issues, plus the reduction in traffic as a result of the 2008 financial crisis, delayed the OMP's completion; construction of the sixth and final parallel runway (9C/27C) began in 2016. Its completion in 2020, along with an extension of runway 9R/27L completed in 2021, concluded the OMP.

Expansion

Control tower and Terminals 3 and 2 seen from ATS (Airport Transit System)

In 2018, the city and airlines committed to Phase I of a new Terminal Area Plan dubbed O'Hare 21. The plan was to build two all-new satellite concourses to the southwest of Concourse C, and to expand Terminals 2 and 5 with additional gates, lounges, and updates to operations all over the airport. (Terminal 5 has ten new gates in addition to its newly expanded facilities, plus two additional gates to each accommodate an Airbus A380.) The expansion will enable same-terminal transfers between international and domestic flights, faster connections, improved facilities and technology for TSA and customs inspections and much larger landside amenities such as shopping and restaurants. A principal feature of the plan is the reorganization of the terminal core into an "alliance hub," the first in North America; airside connections and layout will be optimized around airline alliances. This will be made possible by the construction of the O'Hare Global Terminal (OGT) where Terminal 2 currently stands. The OGT and two new satellite concourses will allow for expansion for both American's and United's international operations as well as easy interchange with their respective Oneworld (American) and Star Alliance (United) partner carriers, eliminating the need to transfer to Terminal 5.

This project will add over 3 million square feet (280,000 m2) to the airport's terminals, add a new customs processing center in the OGT, reconstruct gates and concourses (new concourses will be a minimum of 150 feet (46 m) wide), increase the gate count from 185 to 235, and provide 25% more ramp space at every gate throughout the airport to accommodate larger aircraft. After an international design competition that featured public voting on five final architectural proposals, the Studio ORD group, led by architect Jeanne Gang (in collaboration with SCB, Corgan, Milhouse, and STL Architect), was selected to design the OGT, while Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP will design Satellites 1 and 2. By terms of the agreement, total costs of $8.5 billion for the project are to be borne by bonds issued by the city, which will be retired by airport usage fees paid by the airlines. O'Hare 21 is scheduled for completion of the two satellite terminals in 2028, and overall completion in 2030.[needs update]

As of 2023, the project's cost had ballooned far over budget leading both American Airlines and United Airlines to call for the global terminal project to be cancelled or scaled back.

Facilities

United Airlines Terminal 1, Concourse B
American Airlines Terminal 3 Main Hall

Terminals

O'Hare has four numbered passenger terminals with nine lettered concourses and a total of 213 gates.

Terminals 1–3 are interconnected airside via a walkway. Terminal 5 is separated from the other terminals by a set of taxiways that cross over the airport's access road, requiring most passengers to exit security, ride a shuttle bus or take the Airport Transit System and then re–clear security. An additional shuttle bus provides an airside connection from Terminals 1 and 3 to Terminal 5, operating every 15 minutes from 11:30 am to 9:30 pm.

Runways

O'Hare has two sets of parallel runways, one on either side of the terminal complex. Each airfield has three parallel east–west runways (9L/27R, 9C/27C, and 9R/27L on the north side; 10L/28R, 10C/28C, and 10R/28L on the south side) and a crosswind runway oriented northeast–southwest (4L/22R on the north, 4R/22L on the south). The north crosswind runway, 4L/22R, sees limited usage due to intersecting 9R/27L and 9C/27C; however, runway 22L is often used for takeoffs during what is called "west flow" on the main runways. The airfield is managed by three FAA air traffic control towers. O'Hare has a voluntary nighttime (22:00–07:00) noise abatement program.

In 2015, runway 32R/14L was permanently closed after 72 years of service, in favor of the new runway 10R/28L.

Currently, O'Hare has the most runways of any civilian airport in the world, totaling eight.[citation needed]

Hotel

The Hilton Chicago O'Hare is between the terminal core and parking garage and is currently the only hotel on airport property. It is owned by the Chicago Department of Aviation and operated under an agreement with Hilton Hotels, who extended their agreement with the city by ten years in 2018.

Ground transportation

The Airport Transit System shuttles passengers between the terminal core (Terminals 1–3), Terminal 5, and the O'Hare Multi-Modal Facility (MMF). The system, which re-opened on November 3, 2021, resumed round-the-clock service starting at 5 a.m. on Monday, April 18, 2022, after a nearly six-year renovation. Meanwhile, free shuttle buses also continue to run 24/7 and contribute to congestion, boarding on the upper (departures) level of all terminals. The Bus Shuttle center, located on the ground level of the parking garage between Terminals 1–3 and directly opposite the Hilton Hotel, provides a temporary boarding location for local hotel shuttles and regional public transport buses. The O'Hare Multi-Modal Facility is the home of all on-airport car rental firms as well as some extended parking. In addition, the Chicago-area commuter rail system, Metra, has a transfer station of its North Central Service (NCS) located at the northeast corner of the MMF; however, the NCS currently operates an occasional schedule on weekdays only.

The CTA Blue Line's north terminus is at O'Hare and provides direct service to downtown via the Milwaukee–Dearborn subway in the Loop and continuing to west suburban Forest Park. Trains depart at intervals ranging from every four to thirty minutes, 24 hours a day. The station is located on the lower level of the parking garage, and can be accessed directly from Terminals 1–3 via tunnel and from Terminal 5 via shuttle bus.

Pace, Peoria Charter, Van Galder Bus Company, and Wisconsin Coach Lines operate bus service to O'Hare, stopping at the MMF.

O'Hare is directly served by Interstate 190, which offers interchanges with Mannheim Road (U.S. 12 and 45), the Tri-State Tollway (Interstate 294), and Interstate 90. I-90 continues as the Kennedy Expressway into downtown Chicago and becomes the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway northwest to Rockford and the Wisconsin state line.

Cargo facilities

There are presently two main cargo areas at O'Hare. The South Cargo Area was relocated in the 1980s from the airport's first air cargo facilities, located east of the terminal core, where Terminal 5 now stands. Many of the structures in this new cargo area then had to be rebuilt, again, to allow for the OMP and specifically runway 10R/28L; as a result, what is now called the South Cargo Area is located between 10R/28L and 10C/28C. This large collection of facilities, in three sections (Southwest, South Central, and Southeast), was established mainly by traditional airline-based air cargo; Air France Cargo, American, JAL Cargo, KLM, Lufthansa Cargo, Northwest and United all built purpose-built, freestanding cargo facilities, although some of these are now leased out to dedicated cargo firms. In addition, the area contains two separate facilities for shipper FedEx and one for UPS.

The Northeast Cargo Area (NEC) is a conversion of the former military base (the Douglas plant area) at the northeast corner of the airport property. It is a new facility designed to increase O'Hare's cargo capacity by 50%. Two buildings currently make up the NEC: a 540,000 square feet (50,000 m2) building completed in 2016, and a 240,000 square feet (22,000 m2) building that was completed in 2017. A third structure will complete the NEC with another 150,000 square feet (14,000 m2) of warehouse space.

The current capability of the cargo areas provide 2 million square feet (190,000 m2) of airside cargo space with parking for 40 wide-body freighters matched with over 2 million square feet (190,000 m2) of landside warehousing capability. O'Hare shipped over 1,700,000 tonnes (1,900,000 short tons) in 2018, fifth among airports in the U.S.

Other facilities

In 2011, O'Hare became the first major airport to build an apiary on its property; every summer, it hosts as many as 75 hives and a million bees. The bees are maintained by 30 to 40 ex-offenders with little to no work experience and few marketable skills; they are primarily recruited from Chicago's North Lawndale neighborhood. They are taught beekeeping but also benefit from the bees' labor, turning it into bottled fresh honey, soaps, lip balms, candles and moisturizers marketed under the beelove product line. More than 500 persons have completed the program, transferring to jobs in manufacturing, food processing, customer service, and hospitality; the repeat-offender rate is reported to be less than 10%.

The CDA's Airport Airfield Operations section is based out of the 150' tall prototype tower architect I.M. Pei designed for the FAA in the 1960s -1970s.

Airlines and destinations

Passenger

AirlinesDestinationsRefs
Aer Lingus Dublin
Aeroméxico Guadalajara, Mexico City
Air Canada Montréal–Trudeau, Toronto–Pearson, Vancouver
Air Canada Express Montréal–Trudeau, Toronto–Pearson
Air France Paris–Charles de Gaulle
Air India Delhi
Air New Zealand Auckland (suspended, resumes Q2 of 2025)
Air Serbia Belgrade
Alaska Airlines Anchorage, Portland (OR), San Francisco, Seattle/Tacoma
Seasonal: Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo
All Nippon Airways Tokyo–Haneda, Tokyo–Narita
American Airlines Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Cancún, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City,Charlotte, Cleveland, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Des Moines, Detroit, Fort Myers, Grand Rapids (MI), Hartford, Houston–Intercontinental, Indianapolis, Jacksonville (FL), Kansas City, Las Vegas, London–Heathrow, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Nashville, Newark, New Orleans, New York–JFK, New York–LaGuardia, Omaha, Orange County (CA), Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Pittsburgh, Portland (OR), Raleigh/Durham, Reno/Tahoe, Rochester (NY), Sacramento, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San José del Cabo, San Juan, Seattle/Tacoma, Tampa, Tucson, Washington–National, West Palm Beach
Seasonal: Anchorage, Aruba, Athens, Barcelona, Bozeman, Buffalo, Calgary, Cozumel, Dublin, Eagle/Vail, El Paso, Fort Lauderdale, Glacier Park/Kalispell, Grand Cayman, Guatemala City, Jackson Hole, Key West, Liberia (CR), Montego Bay, Nassau, Palm Springs, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Providenciales, Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana, Rome–Fiumicino, St. Thomas, Sarasota, Vancouver, Venice (resumes June 5, 2024)
American Eagle Albany, Appleton, Asheville, Aspen, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Bangor, Birmingham (AL), Bloomington/Normal, Boise, Buffalo, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Champaign/Urbana, Charleston (SC), Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbia (MO), Columbia (SC), Columbus–Glenn, Dayton, Des Moines, Detroit, El Paso, Evansville (resumes September 4, 2024), Fargo, Fayetteville/Bentonville, Flint, Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids, Green Bay, Greensboro, Greenville/Spartanburg, Harrisburg, Hartford, Huntsville, Indianapolis, Jacksonville (FL), Kalamazoo, Kansas City, Key West, Knoxville, La Crosse, Lansing, Lexington, Little Rock, Louisville, Madison, Manhattan (KS), Marquette, Memphis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Moline/Quad Cities, Nashville, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Peoria, Pittsburgh, Providence, Rapid City, Richmond, Rochester (MN), Rochester (NY), St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, Sioux Falls, Springfield (IL), Springfield/Branson, State College, Syracuse, Toronto–Pearson, Traverse City, Tulsa, Waterloo (IA), Wausau, White Plains, Wichita, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
Seasonal: Billings, Bozeman, Burlington (VT), Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Harlingen, Hayden/Steamboat Springs, Hilton Head, Manchester (NH), Martha's Vineyard, Missoula, Montréal–Trudeau, Myrtle Beach, Nantucket, Newark, Panama City (FL), Pensacola, Portland (ME), Quebec City, Raleigh/Durham, Sarasota, Savannah, Wilmington (NC)
Austrian Airlines Vienna
Avianca Costa Rica Seasonal: Guatemala City, San José (CR)
British Airways London–Heathrow
Cape Air Manistee
Cathay Pacific Hong Kong
Contour Airlines Kirksville, Marion, Owensboro
Copa Airlines Panama City–Tocumen
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK, New York–LaGuardia, Salt Lake City, Seattle/Tacoma
Delta Connection Boston, New York–JFK
Denver Air Connection Ironwood, Watertown
Emirates Dubai–International
Ethiopian Airlines Addis Ababa1
Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi
EVA Air Taipei–Taoyuan
Finnair Seasonal: Helsinki
Frontier Airlines Atlanta, Cancún, Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Las Vegas, Nashville, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Portland (ME), Punta Cana, Raleigh/Durham, Salt Lake City (begins June 14, 2024)
Iberia Madrid
Icelandair Reykjavík–Keflavík
ITA Airways Rome–Fiumicino
Japan Airlines Tokyo–Haneda
JetBlue Boston, New York–JFK
KLM Amsterdam
Korean Air Seoul–Incheon
LOT Polish Airlines Kraków, Warsaw–Chopin
Lufthansa Frankfurt, Munich
Qatar Airways Doha
Royal Jordanian Amman–Queen Alia
Scandinavian Airlines Copenhagen
Southern Airways Express Burlington (IA), Muskegon, Quincy, West Lafayette
Southwest Airlines Austin, Baltimore, Cancún, Dallas–Love, Denver, Fort Myers, Las Vegas, Nashville, Orlando, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Tampa (ends June 3, 2024)
Spirit Airlines Atlanta, Boston (resumes June 5, 2024), Cancún, Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Houston–Intercontinental, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark (begins July 10, 2024), New Orleans, New York–LaGuardia, Orlando, Portland (OR), San Juan, Tampa
Seasonal: Myrtle Beach, Phoenix–Sky Harbor
Sun Country Airlines Minneapolis/St. Paul
Swiss International Air Lines Zürich
TAP Air Portugal Lisbon
Turkish Airlines Istanbul
United Airlines Albany, Albuquerque, Amsterdam, Aruba, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Bozeman, Brussels, Buffalo, Calgary, Cancún, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Charleston (SC), Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Colorado Springs, Columbus–Glenn, Dallas/Fort Worth, Delhi (resumes March 29, 2025), Denver, Des Moines, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Frankfurt, Grand Rapids, Greenville/Spartanburg, Harrisburg, Hartford, Honolulu, Houston–Intercontinental, Indianapolis, Jacksonville (FL), Kahului, Kailua-Kona, Kansas City, Knoxville, Las Vegas, London–Heathrow, Los Angeles, Madison, Memphis, Mexico City, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Montego Bay, Monterrey, Munich, Nashville, Newark, New Orleans, New York–LaGuardia, Norfolk, Omaha, Orange County (CA), Orlando, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Pittsburgh, Portland (ME), Portland (OR), Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana, Raleigh/Durham, Richmond, Rochester (NY), Rome–Fiumicino, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), San José del Cabo, San Juan, São Paulo–Guarulhos, Sarasota, Savannah, Seattle/Tacoma, St. Louis, Syracuse, Tampa, Tel Aviv (suspended),[citation needed] Tokyo–Haneda, Toronto–Pearson, Tulum, Vancouver, Washington–Dulles, Washington–National, West Palm Beach, Zürich
Seasonal: Anchorage, Athens, Barcelona, Belize City, Boise, Burlington (VT), Cozumel, Dublin, Eagle/Vail, Edinburgh, Fairbanks, Fresno, Glacier Park/Kalispell, Grand Cayman, Guatemala City, Hayden/Steamboat Springs, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Jackson Hole, Key West, Liberia (CR), Louisville, Milan–Malpensa, Montrose, Myrtle Beach, Nassau, Palm Springs, Pensacola (FL), Providence, Providenciales, Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana, Rapid City, Reno/Tahoe, Reykjavík–Keflavík, Sioux Falls, St. Lucia–Hewanorra, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, San José (CR), Shannon, Spokane, Traverse City, Tucson, Wichita
United Express Akron/Canton, Allentown, Appleton, Asheville, Birmingham (AL), Boise, Buffalo, Burlington (VT), Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Charleston (SC), Charleston (WV), Charlottesville (VA), Chattanooga, Cincinnati, Colorado Springs, Columbia (SC), Columbus–Glenn, Dayton, Decatur, Des Moines, Detroit, Duluth, El Paso, Fargo, Fayetteville/Bentonville, Flint, Fort Dodge, Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids, Green Bay, Greensboro, Greenville/Spartanburg, Harrisburg, Houghton, Huntsville, Indianapolis, Johnstown (PA), Kansas City, Knoxville, Lexington, Lincoln, Little Rock, Louisville, Madison, Mason City, Memphis, Milwaukee, Moline/Quad Cities, Montréal–Trudeau, Nashville, New Orleans, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Ottawa, Peoria, Pittsburgh, Providence, Richmond, Roanoke, Rochester (NY), Saginaw, St. Louis, Salina, Savannah, Sioux City, Sioux Falls, South Bend, Springfield/Branson, State College, Syracuse, Toronto–Pearson, Traverse City, Tucson, Tulsa, Wichita, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Winnipeg
Seasonal: Albany, Albuquerque, Aspen, Austin, Bangor, Charlotte, Cleveland, Fresno, Glacier Park/Kalispell, Great Falls (begins May 25, 2024), Harlingen, Hartford, Hayden/Steamboat Springs, Hilton Head, Jacksonville (FL), Joplin, Key West, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Missoula, Montrose, Myrtle Beach, Nantucket (begins May 25, 2024), New York–LaGuardia, Palm Springs, Panama City (FL), Pensacola (FL), Portland (ME), Québec City, Raleigh/Durham, Rapid City, Reno/Tahoe, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, Spokane, Sun Valley, Washington–National, Wilmington (NC) (resumes May 25, 2024)
Viva Aerobus Guadalajara, León/Del Bajío, Mexico City, Monterrey, Morelia
Seasonal: Zacatecas
Volaris Guadalajara, León/Del Bajío, Mexico City, Morelia, Querétaro
Seasonal: Huatulco, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Puerto Vallarta
WestJet Seasonal: Calgary

^1 : Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa to O'Hare stops at Rome–Fiumicino, but the flight from O'Hare to Addis Ababa is non-stop.

Cargo

AirlinesDestinationsRefs
AeroLogic Frankfurt
AeroUnion Mexico City–AIFA
AirBridgeCargo Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston–Intercontinental, Luxembourg (all suspended)
Air Canada Cargo Toronto–Pearson (begins June 2, 2024)
Air China Cargo Anchorage, Beijing–Capital, Frankfurt, New York–JFK, Shanghai–Pudong, Tianjin
Air France Cargo Dublin, Glasgow–Prestwick, New York–JFK, Paris–Charles de Gaulle
ANA Cargo Tokyo–Narita
Asiana Cargo Anchorage, Atlanta, New York–JFK, Seattle/Tacoma, Seoul–Incheon
ASL Airlines Belgium Liège
Atlas Air Amsterdam, Anchorage, Cincinnati, Dallas/Fort Worth, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Liège, Miami, Milan–Malpensa, New York–JFK, Seoul–Incheon, Stuttgart, Tokyo–Narita
Cargolux Anchorage, Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Hong Kong, Indianapolis, Kuala Lumpur–International, Los Angeles, Luxembourg, New York–JFK, Singapore, Zhengzhou
Cathay Cargo Anchorage, Hong Kong, New York–JFK, Portland (OR)
China Airlines Cargo Anchorage, Houston–Intercontinental, San Francisco, Seattle/Tacoma, Taipei–Taoyuan
China Cargo Airlines Anchorage, Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Shanghai–Pudong
China Southern Cargo Guangzhou, Shanghai–Pudong
DHL Aviation Anchorage, Calgary, Cincinnati, Newark, New York–JFK
Emirates SkyCargo Copenhagen, Dubai–Al Maktoum, Maastricht/Aachen
EVA Air Cargo Anchorage, Dallas/Fort Worth, Taipei–Taoyuan
FedEx Express Fort Worth/Alliance, Greensboro, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Memphis, Milwaukee, Newark, Omaha, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Portland (OR), Seattle/Tacoma
Korean Air Cargo Anchorage, Halifax, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle/Tacoma, Seoul—Incheon, Toronto–Pearson
LATAM Cargo Chile Campinas
LOT Polish Airlines Warsaw–Chopin
Lufthansa Cargo Anchorage, Atlanta, Frankfurt, Guadalajara, Los Angeles, Manchester (UK), Mexico City–AIFA, New York–JFK
Martinair Oslo
MSC Air Cargo Indianapolis, Liege
Nippon Cargo Airlines Anchorage, Dallas/Fort Worth, Edmonton, Los Angeles, New York–JFK
Qantas Freight Anchorage, Auckland, Chongqing, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Sydney
Qatar Airways Cargo Amsterdam, Brussels, Doha, Los Angeles, Milan–Malpensa, Ostend/Bruges, Singapore
Silk Way Airlines Baku
Singapore Airlines Cargo Anchorage, Atlanta, Brussels, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Seattle/Tacoma
Suparna Airlines Anchorage, Shanghai–Pudong
Turkish Cargo Istanbul, Maastricht/Aachen, Shannon, Toronto–Pearson
UPS Airlines Cologne/Bonn, Columbus–Rickenbacker, Dallas/Fort Worth, Louisville, Miami, Philadelphia, Portland (OR)

Statistics

Top destinations

Busiest domestic routes from ORD (February 2023 – January 2024)
Rank Airport Passengers Carriers
1 California Los Angeles, California 1,138,000 American, Spirit, United
2 New York (state) New York–LaGuardia, New York 1,102,000 American, Delta, United
3 Colorado Denver, Colorado 998,000 American, Southwest, United
4 Florida Orlando, Florida 876,000 American, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United
5 California San Francisco, California 873,000 Alaska, American, United
6 Arizona Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Arizona 861,000 American, Southwest, Spirit, United
7 Texas Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 843,000 American, Spirit, United
8 Georgia (U.S. state) Atlanta, Georgia 823,000 American, Delta, Frontier, Spirit, United
9 Nevada Las Vegas, Nevada 808,000 American, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United
10 New Jersey Newark, New Jersey 765,000 American, United
Busiest international routes from ORD (October 2022 – September 2023)
Rank Airport Passengers Carriers
1 United Kingdom London–Heathrow, United Kingdom 1,008,885 American, British Airways, United
2 Mexico Cancún, Mexico 862,563 American, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United
3 Canada Toronto–Pearson, Canada 704,364 Air Canada, American, United,
4 Mexico Mexico City, Mexico 667,260 Aeroméxico, United, Viva Aerobus, Volaris
5 Germany Frankfurt, Germany 586,239 Lufthansa, United
6 France Paris–Charles de Gaulle, France 438,682 Air France, American, United
7 Republic of Ireland Dublin, Ireland 411,649 Aer Lingus, American, United
8 Japan Tokyo–Haneda, Japan 396,394 ANA, Japan Airlines, United
9 Turkey Istanbul, Turkey 386,478 Turkish
10 Germany Munich, Germany 378,187 Lufthansa, United

Airline market share

Top airlines at ORD
(February 2023 – January 2024)
Rank Airline Passengers Percent of market share
1 United Airlines 23,788,000 40.58%
2 American Airlines 13,342,000 22.76%
3 SkyWest Airlines 5,447,000 9.29%
4 Envoy Air 2,773,000 4.73%
5 Delta Airlines 2,538,000 4.42%
Other 10,479,000 18.27%

Annual traffic

Annual passenger traffic at ORD airport. See Wikidata query.
Traffic by calendar year
Year Passenger volume Change over previous year Aircraft operations Cargo tonnage
2000 72,144,244 Decrease00.64% 908,989 1,640,524
2001 67,448,064 Decrease06.51% 911,917 1,413,834
2002 66,565,952 Decrease01.31% 922,817 1,436,386
2003 69,508,672 Increase04.40% 928,691 1,601,736
2004 75,533,822 Increase08.67% 992,427 1,685,808
2005 76,581,146 Increase01.38% 972,248 1,701,446
2006 76,282,212 Decrease00.30% 958,643 1,718,011
2007 76,182,025 Decrease00.15% 926,973 1,690,742
2008 70,819,015 Decrease07.03% 881,566 1,480,847
2009 64,397,782 Decrease09.07% 827,899 1,198,426
2010 67,026,191 Increase03.83% 882,617 1,577,048
2011 66,790,996 Decrease00.35% 878,798 1,505,218
2012 66,834,931 Increase00.04% 878,108 1,443,569
2013 66,909,638 Increase00.12% 883,287 1,434,377
2014 70,075,204 Increase04.45% 881,933 1,578,330
2015 76,949,336 Increase09.81% 875,136 1,742,501
2016 77,960,588 Increase01.31% 867,635 1,726,362
2017 79,828,183 Increase02.40% 867,049 1,950,137
2018 83,339,186 Increase04.40% 903,747 1,868,880
2019 84,649,115 Increase01.69% 919,704 1,788,001
2020 30,860,251 Decrease063.54% 538,211 2,052,025
2021 54,020,399 Increase075.06% 684,201 2,536,576
2022 68,340,619 Increase026.50% 711,561 2,235,709
2023 73,894,226 Increase08.13% 720,582 1,906,463

On-time performance (domestic major U.S. carriers only)

On-time performance by calendar year
Year Percent of on-

time departures

Percent of on-

time arrivals

Average departure

delay (min)

Average arrival

delay (min)

Percent of

cancelled flights

2017 79% 81% 69.43 77.38 1.40%
2018 77% 77% 69.15 77.91 2.14%
2019 75% 75% 73.69 86.01 3.11%
2020 84% 85% 65.36 78.36 6.18%
2021 81% 82% 70.40 82.42 1.93%
2022 78% 79% 70.26 80.29 2.75%

Major accidents and incidents

The following is a list of major crashes or incidents that occurred to planes at O'Hare, on approach, or just after takeoff from the airport:

See also

Notes

References

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