The south suburbs could use the boost that a fully functional third airport would bring, but they're too late. Gary/Chicago International Airport already is operational and has a strong head start.
Proponents of a south suburban airport are understandably concerned about creating jobs, and building a new airport would unquestionably be a boon to the construction industry. But what about after the airport is built?
Airlines haven't supported the proposal to build a new airport in the south suburbs, and their support is vital to the airport's success. That point cannot be overemphasized.
It's true that Gary's airport hasn't had as much success as it should. Gov. Mitch Daniels on Thursday expressed his disappointment and said perhaps it's time to get a private operator there who knows how to attract airlines to the airport.
Already, however, there is a successful airline, Allegiant Air, flying in and out of Gary on a regular basis.
And thanks to its consultant John Clark, the Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority is weighing a plan that would declare the airport as the Chicago region's low-cost leader.
Earlier this year, the Illinois Department of Transportation sent the Federal Aviation Administration a draft layout plan for an airport in the rural area between Monee, Beecher and Peotone. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has said the plan expresses his state's commitment to building the airport someday.
"Someday," however, is too late. Gary is already fulfilling that need.
Find another major economic development idea for the south suburbs, one that holds great promise, instead of extending a dream that seems unlikely to come true.
Meanwhile, Chicago officials should give their blessing to the push to make the Gary airport's status as the Chicago area's "third airport" official and not just de facto.