Senator Durbin, State/Local Leaders Recognize Most Recent Accomplishments, Partnerships and Economic Development at RFD

June 2, 2021

Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) officials were joined today by Senator Dick Durbin and other state and local leaders at a news conference to recognize and celebrate the most recent projects and accomplishments the airport has achieved, further enhancing growth and economic opportunities within the region.

At the news conference, leaders celebrated RFD’s numerous initiatives that have positively impacted jobs, enhanced the region’s reputation and further driven the area’s economic development efforts. In addition to Durbin, representatives from RFD were joined by Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara, Winnebago County Chairman Joe Chiarelli, Loves Park Mayor Greg Jury, and Machesney Park President Steve Johnson

State Sen. Steve Stadelman, State Rep. David Vella, State Rep. Maurice West, State Rep. Joe Sosnowski.

Among the many projects the Airport and its partners have announced and/or achieved in just the past few months include the construction of the new $50 million international cargo center, the AAR/United Airlines partnership and the $19 million UPS ramp expansion.

RFD is a major economic engine for the Rock River Valley, and Northern Illinois, creating skilled jobs in aviation, transportation, logistics and construction. Over the past year, RFD and its partners have created over 1,000 new jobs bringing the total jobs on the airport campus to over 8,000.

“Chicago Rockford International Airport has long been an economic driver for the entire region,” said Durbin, who has secured more than $50 million in federal funding for the airport’s expansion since 2015. “Whether it is the successful expansion of cargo operations or the partnership between Illinois companies United Airlines and AAR Corp for aircraft maintenance, RFD has brought together public and private investment to create jobs. I will continue to work with U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos, local officials, and RFD leadership to bring federal investments to the airport.”

“Rockford Airport is an important economic engine in the Stateline region, and I’m pleased with the many ongoing projects and partnerships we’re seeing at RFD,” said U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL). “After a difficult year for transportation industry workers, I’m glad to see more good-paying jobs for Illinoisans, and I’ll keep working with Senator Durbin and local leaders to help bring federal support to the airport and region.”

“Chicago Rockford International Airport continues to build upon their growing successes and strengthen economic opportunity in our region,” said Congresswoman Bustos. “As Co-Chair of the Air Cargo Caucus, I applaud the many job-creating initiatives at the airport, like the expansion of a new international cargo center and partnership with AAR and United Airlines to establish a new maintenance hub. Investments like this drive the local economy and I’ll continue to work alongside Senators Durbin and Duckworth, and local leaders to support our community.”

“These accomplishments come together due to the support of our local, statewide and federal leaders,” said Mike Dunn, executive director, RFD. “We are incredibly grateful for Senator Durbin’s constant support as well as that of our statewide and local leaders. Their active engagement in RFD’s growth allows us to be a catalyst for economic development for our region.”

International Cargo Center

In February, RFD announced the construction of the new international cargo center designed to accommodate daily multiple aircraft landings and departures containing international destination freight. The estimated total construction budget for the new facility is $50 million dollars. This figure includes the construction of two buildings, a new ramp for airplane parking and a new road.

In October 2020, RFD announced the construction of a 90,000-square-foot cargo facility. This building is now a part of a new international cargo center. In addition to the first 90,000-square-foot building, the airport also will construct a 100,000-square-foot building, a new ramp to accommodate six 747 aircraft, and a new road that will extend off Baxter Road to accommodate tractor/trailer traffic to and from the facility.

RFD is home to a continually growing air cargo industry and is ranked as the 19th largest airport in the United States for air cargo with more than 2.7 billion pounds (1.2 metric tons) of landed weight in 2020. The airport is the second largest UPS hub in North America and a base of operations for Amazon Air. In 2019, RFD was named the fastest-growing cargo airport in the world. The airport campus also encompasses an aviation maintenance repair facility capable of servicing next-generation aircraft, as well as an aviation maintenance program that is turning out a well-trained and skilled workforce.

AAR/United Airlines Partnership

In April, AAR announced it had signed a multi-year agreement to perform maintenance on United Airlines’ narrow-body aircraft fleet at its maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) facility at RFD. The Rockford site will handle the airline’s Boeing 737 fleet and other aircraft. The service agreement runs through 2025. The agreement will bring 250 new jobs to the region.

AAR will continue to leverage its EAGLE Career Pathway Program with a nationwide network of schools which includes Rock Valley College. The EAGLE Program is designed to provide a path for high school and colleges students to develop their careers at AAR and beyond.

$16 Million Ramp Expansion

RFD recently announced that the existing UPS ramp will be expanded to accommodate aircraft parking. The apron expansion will provide parking positions for six 747 aircrafts. Local companies William Charles Construction Company and Sjostrom & Sons will oversee the ramp construction.