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Rockford International Airport handles billions of pounds of cargo in 2021

Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 6:18 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Another record-breaking year for Rockford International Airport, as 2.7 billion pounds of cargo landed there between January and October. While the increase generates revenue for the airport, leaders say everyone will benefit.

“The last four, five years have been record-setting for us. This year is just blowing our previous years right out of the water,” explains Operations and Planning Deputy Director Zack Oakley. “Air cargo is really the backbone of these adjusting times, the medical shipments, these high value products that are having to be moved. Air cargo has never been relied on more.”

Mayor Thomas McNamara echoes the sentiment, “8,000 people in our community are employed out at the airport. That is really critical, and that is by far the largest employer in our area.”

Beyond cargo, RFD wants to expand passenger services, but people in charge of operations there say the pandemic slowed progress

“I think that’s a more difficult task as far as trying to see if we can continue to grow when it comes to passenger service,” says Senator Steve Stadelman of the 34th district. “I’m confident eventually, as air traffic continues to grow over the next few years, that there will be a good place for passenger service, but right now cargo seems to be the main focus.”

“Obviously COVID has made that side of the industry more difficult,” adds Oakley. “We are very, very close to being back to our 2019 numbers, and we’re working with other carriers that make sense for Rockford. We’re talking with a couple different carriers right now on some new leisure destinations. Obviously, nothing to announce yet.”

Airport representatives say medical supplies, for COVID-19 and beyond, make up a major portion of international goods. And with the holiday season, e-commerce is expected to stay steady. In 2019, RFD was named the fastest growing airport in the world by the Airports Council International.

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