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Cargo surge at RFD

Transport Topics News highlights the continued growth in Cargo traffic at Chicago Rockford Airport


"More than 1.3 billion pounds of cargo made its way through Chicago Rockford International Airport last year, a nearly 50% increase over 2016.

E-commerce is the reason for the airport’s cargo surge, which began in the fall of 2016. That’s when ABX Air began ferrying cargo through the airport for Amazon. Atlas Air, another leader of the air freight industry, is also routing regular cargo flights through Rockford for the e-commerce retailer." 

“We’re out of the peak season now and our cargo volumes aren’t dropping off as they traditionally do,” said Zack Oakley, the airport’s director of operations.

The 1.3 billion pounds of cargo that landed at the Rockford airport translates into $800,000 or more in landing fees, which Airport Director Mike Dunn said will help the airport pay for operations and capital improvements to handle the cargo growth. And because cargo activity is factored into the level of federal aid the airport receives, the prospect for more aid grows as cargo activity increases.

The airport received a $5 million federal grant last year to expand its cargo apron to accommodate more jets on the ground. The apron was completed late last year, and there’s still hundreds of undeveloped acres within the airport campus to accommodate future growth.

Dunn said he expects the cargo surge to continue in 2018. He estimates total landed cargo weight at the airport this year could be 20% above last year’s figures. E-commerce is fueling the surge, he said, and the airport’s strategy is to become a Midwest hub for e-commerce air freight."

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