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4/28/03 Forbes

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by Rich Karlgaard, 04.28.03, 12:00 AM ET

Mayor Daley's Goof

Without warning on Mar. 31, at 1:30 a.m., Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley sent in bulldozers to tear up the runways at Meigs Field, the city's shoreline airport. Daley cited security reasons, although his opposition to Meigs Field was well known and predated 9/11 by several years.

Apparently, Mayor Daley had a legal right to destroy Meigs Field. But what a shame! This little jewel of an airport was an asset to Chicago's business community. It would have become more so in the years ahead.

Daley evidently doesn't know that small jet "air limos" are the next wave in aviation. Manufacturers such as Cessna, Eclipse Aviation and Adam Aircraft have announced four-seat-cabin jets designed to ferry business travelers on point-to-point routes at a price comparable to a full-fare coach ticket. That's cheap. As one more piece of the Cheap Revolution, these pocket jets will cost between $1 million and $3 million new and will operate for less than 75 cents a mile. The jets will hit the market around 2006. In due course limo services will be up and running. My guess is that air limos will be a huge hit with business travelers. Wouldn't you prefer an air limo to the O'Hare schlep?

Meigs Field was the perfect airport to serve tomorrow's air limos. Unwisely, Chicago has surrendered a big asset.

Visit Rich Karlgaard's home page at www.forbes.com/karlgaard  or e-mail him at publisher@forbes.com .

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