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RFD Cargo on track to break records in 2022

Airports are engines of economic growth for the region where they are located. For passenger aviation, it is more convenient for airports to be centrally located or very close to major metros. But these airports aren’t really the best for cargo operations and they don’t necessarily generate significant revenue from the cargo business. Of course, there are exceptions.

Airports that are not in the middle of major metros and are generally considered secondary with a strong cargo-friendly approach prove their value to freight forwarders and shippers looking to move international cargo exports and imports with speed and speed. reliability. These airports are proving to be the go-to airports for the world’s most serious main deck operators, combination carriers and shippers. These are also becoming major centers of economic impact for local economies and arteries of global trade.

Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD), the fastest growing cargo airport in the world, one of the top 15 cargo airports in the United States, is one such airport where the future air freight is going to be. Located 110 km northwest of Chicago O’Hare Airport (ORD), the RFD is ranked the 17th largest cargo airport in North America. Currently, fifteen international airlines serve RFD as a cargo network serving destinations worldwide. RFD is also home to UPS’s second largest hub in North America and a major base for Amazon Air. Clear skies and roads contribute to highly efficient distribution of air cargo and e-commerce.

RFD continues to set gold standards for freight operations and promises its customers the very best. The airport claims not to be crowded on the ground inside or outside the fence. If the cargo is destined for an air freight forwarder, the airport guarantees that it can move the entire aircraft load to that forwarder within five or six hours.

Speaking about cargo activity and the volume of cargo handled at the airport, RFD Deputy Director of Operations and Planning Zach Oakley said 2021 was a “massive historic year”. “We set records for cargo volume. In 2021, we saw a 25% increase over 2020 and growth occurred in all three areas of our operations – Amazon Air, UPS and Cargo We had over 3.4 billion pounds (just over 1.5 million tonnes of cargo) of landed weight.” Oakley is very optimistic about setting a new record for 2022. “2022 is already outpacing 2021 by about 12%. We are on track to beat our record freight volume handled at RFD. freight trade,” he added.

Zach Oakley, Deputy Director of Operations and Planning, Chicago Rockford International Airport

The airport has the largest cargo carriers in the world connecting RFD to the rest of the world. Besides UPS and Amazon Air, RFD serves more than 15 international airlines and freight forwarders, including DB Schenker, DSV, HAE, Senator International, ABX Air, ATI, National Airlines, Silk Way West Airlines, Emirates SkyCargo, Korean Air, Qatar Airways Cargo and Atlas. Air. With the continued expansion of airport cargo, RFD has become a Midwest hub for e-commerce and international cargo.

In fact, it was in February this year that Emirates SkyCargo launched its cargo operations to RFD, complementing the cargo connectivity it already offers in the US Midwest region via O’Hare International Airport, Chicago. (ORD) and Rickenbacker International Airport, Columbus (LCK). The RFD connection offers customers in the region the benefit of additional choice and flexibility to transport their freight on Emirates’ global network of over 140 destinations.

Oakley plans to add a few more cargo carriers toward the end of 2022. He didn’t name them because the airport hasn’t signed any agreements yet. The airport also expects more growth from Atlas Air and UPS. Perhaps the most interesting development to watch is cargo operations from Maersk Air Cargo and CMA CGM Air Cargo.

“We expect to see these carriers choose RFD as their shipping giant. Maersk now owns Senator International, which in 2020 chose RFD as their Midwest hub,” he said. Senator, which operates a cargo warehouse in RFD, has engaged Emery Air, a leading airline based in RFD, to oversee its cargo handling operations.

Having the UPS hub at RFD opened up an easy avenue for Amazon Air to begin operations in 2017. This was also when UPS made a big investment in upgrading its sorting center. which was capable of processing more than 150,000 packages per hour.

According to Oakley, Amazon Air started with a 72,000 square foot facility, but has now grown to 200,000 square feet. Amazon Air now operates nine flights a day, seven days a week, mostly B767Fs. “It looks like it’s going to increase as we get closer to the peak season last quarter,” he said.

RFD recently opened two international warehouses with a total area of ​​190,000 square feet. It is building a third 50,000 square foot warehouse on the airfield and it will be operated by a new handler. RFD currently only has one ground operator and that is Emery Air. The third warehouse should be opened before the end of this year or in January next year.

Oakley also confirmed that RFD will announce a new 100,000 square foot warehouse outside the airport fence. “We are developing this facility to provide customers with the flexibility and support to grow inside and outside the airport.”

Speaking of RFD, continue to set new gold standards and be so freight friendly, Oakley said the approach is “extremely business and freight friendly.” “We don’t approach this as a big bureaucratic organization trying to put up roadblocks for companies to set up shop and do business in Rockford. We can’t allow others to set our course for us. We have to step up and do it ourselves and align with our partners and stay ahead of our airlines and freight forwarders and handlers to solve those challenges. We’re still very focused on that. And I think that’s really allowed us to be successful because we’re trying always understanding how we can do that. We try to find solutions to make sure we can deliver for our customers.

RFD is certainly a solid hub for international flights and e-commerce and it’s something that has taken off so well during the pandemic. “It’s really accelerated that growth and what we’re seeing is more people choosing to fly to RFD rather than flying to some of these big airports like O’Hare,” Oakley said.

It seems that agility is so inherent in RFD and it is the one feature, important indeed, that other big hubs lack.