Air Delays in Chicago Could Continue Into Mid-October, Impacting Numerous Shows

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Chicago, IL – It will take about two weeks to get the air-traffic control center in the Chicago area that was damaged by a fire back on line, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
Air travel into Chicago proceeded at a reduced pace during the September 27-28 weekend and into this week with controllers at other FAA centers picking up as much of the slack as possible.
The fire in the basement of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Chicago En Route Center on September 26 was serious enough to close the vital center and force hundreds of flight delays and cancellations. As of September 30, the FAA said “almost 80% of the average Tuesday traffic for the past two months was flying in and out of O’Hare, and about 85% at Midway.”
Communications equipment was being repaired or replaced, but would not be completed for several more days, the FAA said on September 28. “Teams will be working around the clock to install equipment, run cable and restore network connections at the facility,” the FAA said in a statement. “The FAA has set a target to return Chicago Center to full service by October 13.”
The fire, which was allegedly set intentionally by a contract worker, came two days ahead of the opening of GRAPH EXPO and one day before the start of the National Electric Contractors Association (NECA) 2014 annual meeting, both at McCormick Place. The NECA posted an advisory on its website assuring stranded attendees that their hotel rooms would be held for them.
Chris Price, vice president of Graphic Arts Show Company, told Trade Show Executive it was still uncertain exactly how much of an impact the delays in the air had on the GRAPH EXPO show floor. “We know that some people who planned on visiting GRAPH EXPO are delayed and some are not available to attend because of the flight issues, Price said.
Show managers and the GRAPH EXPO housing firm, Expovision, were in touch with wayward attendees work through any delays, Price added. Attendees who arrived days late or threw in the towel before getting off the ground were subject to the individual cancellation policies of the hotels they had booked.
Reach Beth Ellis, NECA executive director, convention and exposition, at (301) 657-3110 or beth.ellis@necanet.org; Chris Price at (703) 264-7200, x221, or cprice@gasc.org