February 26, 2013

Request for Qualifications Responses Show Strong Interest in Potential Midway Lease Deal

RFQ Submission Process Closed Today at 4 pm; 16 Responses Received, Showing Strong Interest

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

The City of Chicago’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Lois Scott announced today that the City of Chicago’s “Request for Qualifications” (RFQ) for the Midway Lease process, which closed Friday at 4:00 pm, has generated 16 respondents.  The RFQ allows City officials to test market interest for the potential lease of Midway Airport.

“The response generated from the RFQ process is encouraging and provides the City with a sense of the strong level of interest in a potential lease,” said CFO Scott. “We must evaluate fully if this could be a win for Chicagoans and ensure that certain conditions and criteria are met, including a strong benefit to taxpayers and a Travelers' Bill of Rights. The City’s process and approach will be thorough, open and in stark contrast to the lease deals of the past.”

The materials the City delivered to the FAA in December 2012 outlined several specific guidelines and objectives including a “Travelers’ Bill of Rights” that outlines those things that all travelers through Midway Airport will be able to expect no matter what happens with the leasing process to ensure that any lease agreement the City pursues has only a positive effect on the experience that travelers have while at Midway airport.

“Our panel’s focus has been aimed at transparency and ensuring that we protect Chicagoans and their interest,” said Ald. Carrie Austin, 34th Ward, Chairman of the City Council’s Budget Committee, and member of the Midway Advisory Panel. “The interest in this opportunity is encouraging and it underscores the importance of this advisory panel and its work in ensuring that Chicagoans are represented at every stage of the process.”

Any agreement must also fully embrace the labor protections created by State law to ensure an environment where workers are respected and treated fairly and where every employee at Midway has the opportunity to work either for the new manager, with comparable pay and benefits as they enjoy today, or transfer to another position in the City.

The responses to the RFQ were met with support from the airlines that serve Midway as they continue to support the City’s evaluation of this potential transaction. The airlines believe that the potential for a deal like this could have positive implications on service expansion at Midway. 

This RFQ allowed prospective bidders to formally express their interest in bidding on the agreement for Midway. The City will use responses to this RFQ to identify qualified potential bidders.

Additional guidelines detailed in the RFQ include:

  • Long-term lease of fewer than 40 years – The length of the lease will be less than 40 years – significantly shorter than other transactions.
  • Long-term cash flow stream for long-term capital needs – Any transaction must be structured to provide an ongoing source of funds for capital needs.
  • Revenue share – Initial proceeds will be used to pay off debt issued by the City dating back to 1996 to rebuild the new Midway Airport. The City will retain ownership of Midway Airport and receive a percentage fee that will grow over time.

Mayor Emanuel named an independent advisory panel comprised of representatives from the City Council along with business, labor and civic leaders.  The panel has selected independent financial advisors to review all aspects of the transaction, including the procurement process, key terms of the transaction, impact on labor and traveling public, and valuation.  The panel will deliver a written report prior to Council consideration and present their report to the public.  City Council will be encouraged to give the independent panel specific areas to review during the process.

“I’m glad to see we are receiving interest from potential partners,” said Ald. Michael Zalewski, 23rd Ward, who is chairman of the City Council Committee on Aviation and a member of the Midway Advisory Panel. “I’ll look forward to the results of the review and the continuation of the evaluation process.”

The RFQ and FAA approval letter are now available online.

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