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Midway flies high with record 9.67 million passengers in 2012

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 waits take off Chicago's Midway Airport as another lands. FILE PHOTO. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 waits to take off at Chicago's Midway Airport as another lands. FILE PHOTO. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

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Updated: March 5, 2013 6:29AM



Midway International Airport, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel is exploring privatizing, boasted its best year in its 85-year history for passenger travel in 2012, racking up 9.67 million passengers boarding planes, the Chicago Department of Aviation says in a report.

The passenger count, up 1.8 percent from the previous high eight years earlier, came about mostly because more flights took off. Traffic got a boost after Southwest Airlines added seven nonstop flights and new carrier Volaris Airlines added five markets, the city said.

More is on the way: In April, AirTran will start new flights to Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Southwest/AirTran will offer flights to Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.

Midway’s growth has defied the recession. Its passenger boardings jumped 3.35 percent in 2012 after having increased 7.1 percent in 20¡1 from the prior year. Midway’s growth rate in 2011 was more than triple the national average increase of 2.3 percent.

“Midway continues to be one of the fastest-growing airports in the United States and has emerged as one of the nation’s premier airports for domestic service,” Emanuel said.

Emanuel and the Federal Aviation Administration have drawn fire for seeking bidders on a possible lease of Midway. Last week, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), said the federal government should be repaid the $378 million in federal funds used to rebuild Midway if a privatization deal goes through.



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