The Chicago City Council this week approved a concessions relief program introduced by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) to provide financial assistance and other relief to concessionaires at Chicago O’Hare International (ORD) and Midway International (MDW) airports suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program grants the CDA the authority to provide temporary relief to concessionaires in the form of rent reductions, adjustments and deferrals, reduced security deposit/credit requirements, relaxation of mandatory operating space requirements, short extensions of term to extend amortization of costs, and developing operational alternatives like kiosks and mobile carts.

“Many airport concessionaires are small, local and diverse businesses,” said Lightfoot in announcing the council vote. “They are the lifeblood of our airports, providing local flavor and culture to the traveler experience. The slowdown in travel has had a profound impact on these businesses, and we are determined to provide the kind of assistance that ultimately may make the difference between staying in business or closing for good.”

Last week the CDA also teamed up with the city’s Department of Procurement Services (DPS) to announce a program that enlists established Assist Agencies to provide support and technical services for ACDBE concessionaires with a focus on ness sustainability and job retention.

The concessions relief program must have the approval of the City’s Corporation Counsel and Chief Financial Officer, and the CDA will submit a report to the Aviation Committee quarterly on the status of all relief granted. Relief is limited to three years and includes workforce retention requirements.

“Our goals are simple: that we have sustainability and continuity amongst our concessions partners; that they’re employing people; and that they’re able to pay us back,” said CDA Commissioner Jamie Rhee.