Attorneys for Chicago and United and American airlines met in a judge's chamber Friday morning to report whether any progress has been made in their dispute over completing the expansion of O'Hare International Airport.
Both sides left Cook County Circuit Judge Richard Billik's courtroom with no comment on the status of negotiations aimed at settling differences over the city's financing plan and timetable to complete the remaining runways as soon as possible.
The two sides met earlier in the week in Chicago and at the U.S. Department of Transportation in Washington, where federal officials have been attempting to mediate a resolution.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D., Ill., said last week the process has been "frustrating" and it was difficult just to convince the two sides to continue direct talks. Some of the sessions involved federal officials serving as intermediaries shuttling back and forth between the city and airlines.
No progress has occurred, sources said, as the two sides hold their ground in the waning days of the Daley administration.
Mayor Richard Daley sounded a conciliatory tone today, saying there remains a "difference of opinion" but that discussions among city officials and airline representatives "have been going very well."
"I don't think they're waiting anyone out," Daley said of the delays in the case and the possibility the airlines are stalling until he leaves office. "Our discussions have been very, very good discussions, especially with FAA, United, American and our staff."
United and American filed a lawsuit in January seeking to stop the city from selling about $1 billion in bonds that are backed by passenger ticket taxes at O'Hare.
Billik on Friday rescheduled a hearing set for March 8 on a motion by Chicago to dismiss the lawsuit until March 14, to give negotiations more time.
A hearing on the airlines' request for a preliminary injunction to stop the city bond issuance is set for March 15 and 16.
The airlines maintain the city cannot issue the debt, which is needed to begin $3.4 billion worth of construction on the final runways and supporting infrastructure, without their approval.
The airlines contend the new runways will not be needed for many years and that a decision on commencing construction should be based on total annual flight numbers reaching agreed upon targets.
City officials reject that idea and are hoping to begin construction in April.