02/04/2013 12:50 pm ET

Chicago Midway Traffic Record: Airport Bucked Trends To Post Record High Number Of Passengers

O'Hare International may be Chicago's largest airport (and the nation's second-busiest overall) but the city's smaller sister airport Midway International is no slouch, either.

With 9.67 million passengers boarding planes in 2012, the Southwest Side airport had the best period in its 85-year history, reports the Sun-Times.

"Midway continues to be one of the fastest growing airports in the U.S. and has emerged as one of the nation's premier airports for domestic service," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement.

While data from the Chicago Department of Aviation released Sunday shows O'Hare's passenger load remained flat, Midway saw an increase of 1.8 percent from 2011, according to the Tribune. The little bump in traffic was enough to push the airport past a previous traffic high set in 2004.

According to the Associated Press, the city said Midway's higher traffic is mostly due to the fact that more flights took off from Midway last year. Trips in the 43-gate airport flew to 62 different destinations as of last January, with Southwest Airlines accounting for 87 percent of that share, according to airport data.

The increase in passenger load has bucked recession trends, according to the Sun-Times; in 2011, Midway’s growth rate was more than triple the national average increase of 2.3 percent.

Positive growth numbers should be a boon to City Hall, with Emanuel continuing to push a privatization deal at Midway. Earlier in January, the Federal Aviation Administration gave the city the OK to start seeking bids for a public-private partnership.



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