Passenger traffic at Chicago Rockford International Airport in 2022 will increase 18% year-over-year, approaching pre-pandemic levels, according to airport officials.
About 242,000 people entered and exited the RFD last year, according to Zach Oakley, deputy director of Chicago’s Rockford International Airport.
“The region definitely has a strong appetite for travel, and destinations outside of Rockford work very well,” Oakley said. There’s nothing wrong with making people want to fly.”
According to Oakley, 2022 passenger numbers on RFD were about 3% below pre-pandemic figures in 2019, which included popular Apple Vacations flights to Cancun, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.
Apple canceled these flights during the pandemic in March 2020 and service has not resumed.
The airport is currently operated by Allegiant Air, which provides direct flights to Las Vegas, Nevada. Phoenix, Arizona. Orlando, Florida, Clearwater, Punta Gorda, Sarasota.
Oakley said RFD is pursuing additional destinations in the new year based on passenger feedback.
Possibilities include Denver, Dallas, Nashville, Austin, Texas, and Asheville, North Carolina.
“They’re attractive destinations to cities they’ve served before, such as Denver, or from a market perspective, seeing an outflow of customers from Rockford to the Chicago market,” he said. “Every time I post something on Facebook, Nashville always seems to be on the shortlist. It’s a destination that’s growing with low-cost airlines.”
Oakley said airport officials are in discussions with Allegiant Airlines and other commercial airlines about additional non-RFD destinations.
“We have proven to have a very strong market for people who want to travel outside of the destinations we have to offer. It’s well-supported by the community, so it’s a great story to sell when you’re talking to airlines.
more:5 reasons Rockford is one of the nation’s fastest growing cargo airports
Oakley said cargo operations at the airport in 2022 were up 1% year-on-year.
According to FAA data, RFD handled 3.433 billion pounds of landing weight last year. This is around £31m more than the 2021 figure.
RFD is the 14th largest cargo airport in the United States by landing weight.
The local airport is home to the second largest UPS hub in North America and a major hub for Amazon Air, serving more than 15 international airlines and freight carriers.
Business news and features from Ken DeCoster. Contact him at 815-987-1391, [email protected] or @DeCosterKen.