Airport CompetitionEssential Air Service Slots at O'Hare International Airport Gao ID: RCED-94-118FS March 4, 1994
This fact sheet provides information on the availability of air travel between small airports in the Midwest and Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Some small communities in the Midwest contend that service to O'Hare is vital to attracting new industry and maintaining healthy local economies. Although the Essential Air Service program guarantees a minimum level of service from most small airports, these communities believe that maintaining frequent and convenient service to O'Hare has become increasingly difficult as the limited number of takeoff and landing slots at that airport have become controlled by a few large airlines. This fact sheet discusses (1) changes in service between small Midwestern towns and O'Hare since 1978 and since the Essential Air Service program was modified and extended in 1987; (2) the level of concentration of commuter aviation services in the Midwest; (3) differences in fares between small communities in the Midwest and those in other regions; (4) trends in slot utilization and capacity at O'Hare; and (5) the impact of airport improvements on O'Hare's capacity.
GAO found that: (1) in fiscal year 1993, the Essential Air Service (EAS) Program provided a total of $38.6 million to commercial air carriers agreeing to provide service to designated communities; (2) some midwestern communities believe that service to O'Hare International Airport is essential for attracting new industry and maintaining healthy local economies; (3) maintaining frequent and convenient service to O'Hare has become increasingly difficult because the limited number of takeoff and landing slots at O'Hare are controlled by a few large airlines; (4) the number of nonstop and direct flights available between small midwestern airports and O'Hare Airport has decreased since the start of the EAS program; and (5) O'Hare Airport could accommodate more traffic through more efficient slot allocation, but the Federal Aviation Administration and airport officials believe that the number of additional slots would be minimal.