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 85 miles (136.7 km) northwest of Chicago[3] and four miles (6 km) south of Rockford. The airport served over 100,000 passengers in 2015.[4]


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.[citation needed] Passenger service was lost completely from 2001 to 2003.[citation needed] 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] In 2013, the terminal was renamed the Donald A. Manzullo International Terminal.[6] [7]

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] In addition to the passenger terminal, the airport is home to three cargo ramps.

Adjacent to the main terminal ramp, the 50-acre north cargo ramp is home to the Rockford Regional Air Hub of UPS Airlines that was constructed in 1994. The largest ramp at the airport, it has parking spaces for up to 40 jet aircraft.

In between the two runways, the smaller south ramp is home to one of two FBOs at the airport. In 2015, the former BAX Global (through Air Transport International/ATI) and DHL Express (ABX Air) cargo facilities were demolished to begin construction on a 200,000 square foot MRO facility owned and operated by AAR Corporation, which was opened in 2016.[8]

Located southwest of the UPS ramp, in 2008, the airport constructed a third cargo ramp and a 72,000 square foot warehouse.[9] In 2016, the facilities were leased for the first time to ABX Air to transfer air freight to trucks through the facility.[9]

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Airlines Destinations
Allegiant Air Las Vegas, Orlando/Sanford, Phoenix/Mesa, Punta Gorda/Fort Myers, St. Petersburg/Clearwater
Apple Vacations
operated by Sunwing Airlines
Seasonal Charter: Cancún, Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana
Apple Vacations
operated by Norwegian Air Shuttle
Seasonal Charter: Cancún, Montego Bay, Punta Cana
Branson AirExpress
operated by Elite Airways
Seasonal: Fort Collins/Loveland
Sun Country Airlines Seasonal Charter: Laughlin/Bullhead


Airlines Destinations
Air Transport International Charlotte, Ontario
UPS Airlines Anchorage, Baltimore, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver International Airport, Des Moines, Detroit, Hartford, Houston–Intercontinental, Louisville, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK, Newark, Ontario, Peoria, Philadelphia, Portland (OR), Seattle–Boeing


Top destinations[edit]

Busiest domestic routes from RFD
(Dec 2014 – Nov 2014)[10]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Orlando/Sanford, Florida 21,000 Allegiant
2 Phoenix/Mesa, Arizona 20,000 Allegiant
3 Fort Myers/Punta Gorda, Florida 19,000 Allegiant
4 Las Vegas, Nevada 18,000 Allegiant
5 St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Florida 17,000 Allegiant
6 Bullhead City, AZ 1,000 Sun Country

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]


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 operated a small hub at RFD during the latter part of the 1970s with Grumman Gulfstream I commuter propjets.[11] Direct Air served the airport until March 2012.[12] Frontier offered mainline service to Denver until 2013. It also offered several charter flights, on behalf of Apple Vacations.[13]

Recent (since 2002)
Historical (before 2002)


Rockford AirFest[edit]

Main article: Rockford AirFest
Boeing 747 Large Cargo Freighter (Boeing 747 Dreamlifter) on static display at the 2010 Rockford AirFest

Throughout its history, the Rockford airport has played host to airshows in several different capacities, often becoming one of the largest events in Northern Illinois. In 1959, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) moved its annual fly-in from Timmerman Field in Milwaukee to the Greater Rockford Airport after outgrowing the smaller Wisconsin airfield. In 1960, 1000 people attended, leading to growth each year through the 1960s.[14] 1969 would be the final year for the EAA fly-in in Rockford, as it had outgrown the Rockford airport. For 1970, the EAA would move its annual convention/fly-in to Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where it has been held ever since.

In 1986, the Greater Rockford Airport returned to hosting large-scale air shows with the Midwest AirFest. From 1986 to 1994, the show would twice feature the United States Air Force Thunderbirds.[citation needed] After an 11-year hiatus, the AirFest (rebranded as the Rockford AirFest) returned in 2005. The airshow is one of the few in the United States that has twice hosted the combination of the United States Air Force Thunderbirds, US Navy Blue Angels, and the F-22 Raptor Demo Team.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]