After empty runways and non-existent passenger service in 2002, the buzz is back at the freshly international Greater Rockford Airport.
"You could have thrown footballs in that terminal and no one would have gotten hit. The other day you couldn't move in that terminal, there were so many people there, there was an excitement," Rubloff Development President Mark Robinson said.
On Sunday night, RFD made history twice with the first arriving international flight and the first customs check. Carrier Sunship One took off to Cancun this past Thursday along with weekly flights to Puerto Vallarta beginning in May.
"We know this region needs a tourism airline, someone that's going to fly them to exciting destinations. We intend to be that airport," Robinson said.
And there's more. Robinson adds that Sunship One is applying for one-stop service to Jamaica out of Rockford. With each new destination, Robinson says more jobs will be pumped into the area's economy.
"Where we are at today is that we probably added about 40 or 50 jobs to the local community. If we can continue to add aircraft as we intend to do, we should be able to double that by the end of the year," Robinson said.
The president says a range of jobs, flight attendants, reservation agents and accountants, will pop up as new flight locales pop up. Aside from Mexico and Jamaica, Sunship One is interested in any location with lots of sand and sun.
"When people are sick at the clouds and the snow and it’s time to go, so anyplace that’s warm is where we are looking at," Robinson said.
There will be more flights out of the cold and right to the tropics, soon flying out of the recently red-hot RFD.