Chicago City Council has approved a concessions relief programme to provide financial aid to the concessionaires at O’Hare and Midway International Airports.

The programme was introduced by Mayor Lori E Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) last month.

The airport concessionaires were substantially affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, along with the aviation industry as a whole. The package that was approved will aid in the continued operations of the businesses.

Mayor Lightfoot said: “Many airport concessionaires are small, local, and diverse businesses. They are the lifeblood of our airports, providing local flavour and culture to the traveller 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.”

CDA can now offer financial relief to restaurants, shops, advertisers and rental car operators, among other airport concessionaires who did not receive federal government assistance other than what is offered to small businesses.

The relief can be offered as rent reductions, minimum rent adjustments, deferral of rent, reduced security deposits and the relaxation of mandatory operating space requirements.

CDA can also offer short extensions to extend amortisation of costs and authorise operational alternatives or other relief measures that adhere to the guidance of the Federal Aviation Administration and legal requirements.

CDA commissioner Jamie L Rhee added: “This is a creative approach to bridge that divide and provide some real relief, and some breathing room, for these critical airport businesses. Supporting our entire concessions community and keeping them operating during these unprecedented times will lead to the continued health of the full Chicago Airport system moving forward, beyond Covid-19.”

Last week, CDA partnered with the Department of Procurement Services (DPS) in a bid to aid and provide technical support to airport businesses.

Last month, Hong Kong Airport Authority (AA) introduced a new relief package worth HK$2bn ($258m) to aid the airlines’ aviation support services operators.