Chicago Rockford International Airport

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Chicago Rockford International Airport
WMO: 72543
Airport type Public
Owner Greater Rockford Airport Authority
Serves Rockford, Illinois
Hub for UPS Airlines
Elevation AMSL 742 ft / 226 m
Coordinates 42°11′43″N 89°05′50″W / 42.19528°N 89.09722°W / 42.19528; -89.09722Coordinates: 42°11′43″N 89°05′50″W / 42.19528°N 89.09722°W / 42.19528; -89.09722
FAA airport diagram
FAA airport diagram
RFD is located in Illinois
Location within Illinois
Direction Length Surface
ft m
1/19 8,199 2,499 Asphalt
7/25 10,004 3,049 Asphalt/Concrete
Statistics (2012)
Aircraft operations 41,204
Based aircraft 114
Total enplanements 106,412 Increase 3.76%
Total landed cargo weight (in lbs.) 822,206,730 lbs Decrease -7.48%

Chicago Rockford International Airport (IATA: RFDICAO: KRFDFAA LID: RFD), is a general aviation and commercial airport in Winnebago County, Illinois. It is 68 miles (109 km) northwest of Chicago[3] and four miles (6 km) south of Rockford. The airport served over 215,000 passengers in 2007.[4]


Chicago Rockford International Airport Main Terminal

RFD traces its history back to 1917, when Camp Grant was established during World War I as an U.S. Army Cavalry Camp. During the events of World War II, Camp Grant was made into a military training base and prisoner of war confinement center.

Following the war, the state of Illinois adopted the Airport Authority Act. The Greater Rockford Airport Authority was created in 1946. For more than forty years, the facility was referred to as the Greater Rockford Airport, serving the area as a regional airport. In 1987, the current passenger terminal was constructed in an effort to attract more passenger service. Six years later, United Parcel Service opened its first of two cargo facilities at the airport. The location became a selling point as a transportation facility for cargo as well as for passengers. However, declining passenger numbers led to the temporary loss of scheduled passenger airline service in 2001. Although the Rockford airport had previously had flights to O'Hare Airport, for many residents, it was far more affordable to get to Chicago by bus or by their own car and then fly. In 2003, passenger service was restored to the airport as the facility marketed itself towards leisure travelers; instead of offering regional service primarily to O'Hare or other Midwestern destinations, Rockford offered low-cost flights to Florida.

In an effort to capitalize on the airport's location (less than 90 miles (145 km) from downtown Chicago and about 30 miles (48 km) from the outermost Chicago suburbs), its name was changed to the Northwest Chicagoland Regional Airport at Rockford in the early 2000s. In 2004, the airport became an official US port of entry and achieved international status; that year, it was renamed the Chicago/Rockford International Airport (the slash was removed in 2007).[5] The name was not only shorter, but the change also brought it in line with the other two "Chicago" airports (O'Hare and Midway). In many forms of media, the airport also markets itself by its three FAA/IATA call letters: RFD.

Today the Rockford airport is marketed to residents of Rockford and surrounding areas as an alternative to Chicago Midway International Airport and O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, WI and Dane County Regional Airport in Madison, Wisconsin as well as limited service airports such as Dubuque Regional Airport in Iowa. The airlines at RFD also often use their low fares and free airport parking as a selling point as well.

Airport layout[edit]

Chicago Rockford International Airport covers 2,900 acres (1,200 ha) and has two runways, both with an ILS: 1/19 is 8,199 x 150 ft. (2,499 x 46 m) and 7/25 is 10,004 x 150 ft. (3,049 x 46 m). In 2006 the airport had 77,558 aircraft operations, average 212 per day: 72% general aviation, 18% scheduled commercial, 6% air taxi and 3% military.[3]

Passenger facilities[edit]

View of main terminal from runway.

The current terminal was built in 1987 in an effort to expand airline service in Rockford, but the common use of bus service to O'Hare International Airport kept most airlines away from Rockford. Passenger service was lost completely from 2001 to 2003. An upgrade to the terminal in 2005 brought more jetways, escalators, and improved baggage handling equipment (the previous system catered to smaller turboprop aircraft rather than jets).[citation needed]

Cargo facilities[edit]

The airport is in a foreign-trade zone. As runway 7/25 is 10,000 feet (3,000 m) long, a variety of large aircraft can land at RFD; the largest aircraft landed at RFD is the Antonov An-124 Ruslan.[citation needed]

RFD has two cargo aprons in use.[clarification needed] In November 2008, a third one was completed along the west end of runway 7/25 (southwest of the existing UPS ramp), but there are no current tenants.[citation needed]

West Cargo Apron[edit]

The larger north cargo apron is next to the main terminal; it is home to the UPS facilities which opened in 1994.

South Cargo Apron[edit]

Located in between the two runways, the smaller south cargo apron is home to one of the two FBOs at the airport. It is the former home of the BAX Global (through Air Transport International/ATI) and DHL Express (ABX Air) operations.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Airlines Destinations
Allegiant Air Fort Myers/Punta Gorda, Las Vegas, Orlando/Sanford, Phoenix/Mesa, St. Petersburg/Clearwater
Frontier Airlines Seasonal: Cancún, Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana
All passenger destinations served nonstop from RFD (as of November 2013)

Top Destinations[edit]

Busiest domestic routes out of RFD
(December 2011 - November 2012)[6]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Phoenix-Mesa, AZ 24,000 Allegiant
2 Las Vegas, NV 19,000 Allegiant
3 Orlando-Sanford, FL 19,000 Allegiant
4 St. Petersburg, FL 17,000 Allegiant
5 Denver, CO 14,000 Frontier

RFD was once the company headquarters for Ryan International Airlines, staging many of its aircraft at the airport for charter hire. Ryan ceased all operations in 2013. Due to its proximity to Chicago O'Hare/Chicago Midway and Mitchell Field in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, RFD serves as the primary diversion airport for 27 major airlines including American Airlines, United Airlines, Air France, British Airways, Aer Lingus and Virgin Atlantic[citation needed].

Cargo airlines[edit]

Airlines Destinations
UPS Airlines Anchorage, Baltimore, Dallas/Fort Worth, Des Moines, Detroit, Hartford/Springfield, Houston-Intercontinental, Louisville, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York-JFK, Newark, Ontario, Peoria, Philadelphia, Seattle-Boeing Field


Several airlines have previously served the airport including United Express, Hooters Air, Frontier, Midwest Connect, Midway Connection, Trans Meridian, American Eagle, TWA, Ozark, McClain, Direct Air, Northwest Airlink (Mesaba and Pinnacle), etc. TWA had Boeing 727-200 service from Rockford to O'Hare in the 1980s for a short while. The original Frontier also served Rockford from 1984 until late 1986 when the operation was transferred to Britt Airways for a short time. Coleman Air Transport also had a hub operation at RFD in the latter part of the 1970s. Direct Air served the airport until March 2012.[7]

Recent (since 2002)
Historical (before 2002)


Rockford AirFest[edit]

Main article: Rockford AirFest
Boeing 747 Dreamlifter on static display at the 2010 Rockford AirFest

Air shows have played an integral role in the history of the Rockford Airport. From 1959 to 1969, the Annual Convention and Fly-In of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) was held at the Greater Rockford Airport. The attendance for the event was 1000 in 1960, growing each year.[8] Due to lack of space, the convention moved to its present location in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 1970. In 1986, airshows returned to Rockford with the start of the Midwest AirFest. From 1986 to 1994, the show would twice feature the Air Force Thunderbirds.

After an 11-year hiatus, the airport resumed hosting airshows (re-branded as the Rockford AirFest) in 2005. Headline performers have since included the US Air Force Thunderbirds and US Navy Blue Angels.

Wing Ding[edit]

Main article: Wing Ding

The historic Bell Bowl, a natural amphitheater on the south side of the airport, was the venue for the 16th (and currently, final) Wing Ding concert on May 24, 2009. Shinedown headlined, with support from Saliva, Saving Abel, Powerman 5000, 10 Years, and more.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]