ROCKFORD, Ill. - Today the Chicago Rockford International Airport welcomed a very prestigious international arrival, the 2012 European Ryder Cup Team in transit from London. The 240 passengers on the private charter flight included team members, captains, families and staff on board an Airbus 340.
RFD officials were in communication with the Professional Golfer's Association (PGA) tournament managers for the past year to secure and coordinate the high-profile charter flight.
"The Ryder Cup team had several options on which airport to utilize in the region. It says a lot about our airport and its capabilities that they decided to come here," said RFD Director Mike Dunn. "The tour officials recognized the same conveniences and amenities at RFD that all of our passengers do - convenient location and access to Chicago, hassle free experience with less crowds and great customer service."
The PGA and Ryder Cup officials selected Rockford due to its convenience, ability to accept the large aircraft, and the fact that RFD has a customs facility.
"This is another example of the opportunities we are able to secure thanks to the work of Representative Don Manzullo in bringing the international terminal and Federal Inspection Services to RFD," said Greater Rockford Airport Authority Chairman Bharat Puri. "These capabilities have been critical in our passenger service development by allowing us to bring top international destinations to RFD."
Currently, RFD offers non-stop service to Cancun and Punta Cana. It will begin service to Jamaica in January 2013.
The European Ryder Cup Team charter is one of many of the high-profile flights that have selected RFD. In June 2012, RFD handled a refueling stop for an aircraft carrying the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a delegation of Turkish officials en route to the G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. In 2009, Oprah Winfrey selected RFD as the airport to launch the departure and return of five full charter flights carrying her team of more than 1,600 employees and associates for her company-provided trip to Barcelona, Spain.
"Today is a great opportunity to showcase the airport to distinguished guests as well as passenger airlines," said Zach Sundquist, passenger air service development manager at RFD. "Airline executives notice how we can handle and accommodate these flights efficiently, and it helps builds on the positive reputation of the airport as we look to further develop our passenger service."
After clearing customs, the team boarded charter buses at RFD to travel to the Medinah Country Club where the Ryder Cup will be held on September 28-30. The European team is the current holder of the Ryder Cup, which was last held in 2010 in Wales.