Chicago Rockford International Airport

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Chicago Rockford International Airport has received $18.6 million in grant money from the federal CARES Act. Much of the money will be put toward operational expenses during the pandemic. Zack Oakley is Deputy Director of Operations and Planning for the airport. He said, with reduced passenger service, the airport is facing financial stress. 

"It’s not just the landing fee, but the parking and concession fees, rental car fees. There’s a lot of revenue that’s created based off passengers. Off cargo, our biggest generation is just the landing fee of the aircraft." 

Chase Cavanaugh / WNIJ

Illinois State Comptroller Susana Mendoza just released nearly $15 million in back funds for Chicago Rockford International Airport.

The money was supposed to go toward the construction of the Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul facility. Airport Executive Director Mike Dunn says the project began four years ago, but the state’s contribution never came. 

“Governor Quinn’s administration made the commitment," Dunn said. "He left office. Governor Rauner came in and Rauner ended up giving us nothing.”  

Chase Cavanaugh

One of the last airworthy B-17 bombers stopped in Rockford Friday and Saturday for public tours.

The plane, christened Aluminum Overcast, was built in 1945, and later donated to the Experimental Aircraft Association. One of the visitors was 96-year-old tailgunner Ray Moore of Aurora.  Members of his bomber group, the 398th, helped keep this plane airworthy over the years. 

"Our bomb group paid to have this plane painted and we also put the number 3 engine on it," he said.

Spencer Tritt

More than 100 volunteers played victims in a mock airplane crash at Chicago Rockford International Airport Friday. 

The airport staged a drill where an Allegiant jet had an "accident" when there was a landing gear malfunction. That left volunteers either sitting or lying flat on a runway next to the aircraft.  Firefighters and medics from the Airport, Rockford, Byron, Freeport, and other nearby communities then took them away for triage and treatment. All the while, fire trucks flanked the site, in position as if there was a real fire.

Chase Cavanaugh / WNIJ

Amazon is a leader in online shopping. It has warehouses across the country to sort and deliver its products. Recently, Amazon Air announced it will expand its delivery network into Rockford. 

Chicago Rockford International Airport is already a major hub for UPS. The airport also has maintenance facilities capable of repairing the world's largest aircraft. But Amazon took particular interest due to the airport's cargo operations. Director Sarah Rhoads says it's part of the retailer's "Middle Mile" network for two-day deliveries.

Amazon To Expand 'Amazon Air' At Rockford Airport

Dec 3, 2018
Chase Cavanaugh

Tech-giant Amazon is expanding its Amazon Air operation in Rockford at the Chicago Rockford International Airport.

Sarah Rhoads is the director of Amazon Air. She said via press release that the move is being made to “ensure we have the capacity to continue to fulfill our promise to our customers.”

Amazon Air is a middle point in an Amazon order, where products are flown across the country to regional hubs so they can be delivered in one to two days -- if you’re a Prime customer.

Chase Cavanaugh / WNIJ

When you think of passenger air travel in northern Illinois, O'Hare often comes to mind. But Rockford's facility, officially known as Chicago Rockford International Airport, is making a greater name for itself, particularly in the realm of cargo.

In 1994, officials with United Parcel Service, better known as UPS, made a deal with airport authorities to set up a sorting hub. Since then, it's become the company's second largest air operation in the world.

Cargo Business Is Skyrocketing At RFD

Jul 24, 2018
Chase Cavanaugh / WNIJ

The Chicago Rockford International Airport is now the 22nd busiest airport in the nation for cargo volume. The airport rose from a ranking of 31st in 2016. Airport Executive Director Mike Dunn said Rockford has the necessary infrastructure to support both cargo and passenger operations.

“Well, it’s been a curious contemplation by myself and people at the airport to determine what would come or explode first at the airport -- the cargo operations or the passenger operations, and obviously, it’s the cargo operations,” Dunn said.

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Members of Illinois' congressional delegation marked improvements at Chicago Rockford International Airport Monday.

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos and Senator Dick Durbin broke ground on an expansion to the airport’s international cargo building, along with a new ramp for cargo plane parking. Bustos says the airport has made significant investments, and these upgrades will further increase efficiency.

The delivery of air cargo is a $35 billion proposition, and  the officials say Rockford is doing a great job of tapping into that.

Chase Cavanaugh / WNIJ

 Four people were injured when a small plane crashed at the Chicago Rockford International Airport Monday evening.

Deputy Chief Brian Kunce with the airport fire department said the King Air C-90 twin-engine plane was about 200 yards from a runway when it stuck a ditch, bounced over a fence and came to rest on the airport grounds. Kunce says the plane didn't catch fire.  

The extent of the injuries was not immediately known. Two people -- one of whom was unconscious -- had to be extricated from the plane.  

Rockford Area Economic Development Council

AAR is looking for 30 new mechanics September to work in its jet-repair hub at Chicago-Rockford International Airport.  

The company held a job fair yesterday aimed at increasing its Rockford staff to 150.  AAR officials, including facility manager Wayne Jamroz,  said United Airlines and AeroMexico have used the Rockford facility, and it eventually will employ at least 500 workers, and possibly up to a thousand.  

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Federal, state, and local officials celebrated the beginning of Phase Two of a huge improvement project at the Chicago/Rockford International Airport Monday.

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Chicago Rockford International Airport secured $8.3 million in federal grants Thursday. 

The announcement came yesterday from U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos and U.S. Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin. The Rockford Register Star reports the grants will go toward two main projects.