The Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) has seen more than 625 million pounds of landed weight during the first quarter of 2020, which is more than a 30 percent increase over the first quarter of 2019. The first quarter numbers are equivalent to the cargo operations RFD and its partners see during the peak end-of-year holiday timeframe.
Both UPS and Amazon are providing an important service and keeping some normalcy in people’s lives. At the same time, the cargo moving through our airport is bringing essential materials including personal protection equipment (PPE), medicine and other supplies to the region’s essential workers who are fighting the Covid-19 battle on the front lines.
This week, RFD hosted two Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) planes packed with more than 440 pallets and 300,000 pounds of medical supplies that were headed to a warehouse near Chicago for regional distribution to essential workers and patients.
“At no time has cargo been more important than right now as consumers and businesses address many of their supply needs through ecommerce purchases,” said Mike Dunn, Executive Director, RFD. “Our investment in growing the airport’s cargo operations during the past several years has an exceptional return on investment in our region’s economic growth and ensuring – and growing – employment during this challenging time.”
As of the end of March, RFD’s cargo partners, which would regularly be at 3,200-3,500 employees at this time in the year, are now at 4,000-4,500 total employees. This growth is in addition to the nearly 2,000 jobs that were created in 2019; jobs included both permanent and seasonal positions through new and existing tenants as well as construction-related jobs to support the growth.
Additionally, RFD was notified on Monday that in direct response to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that regional airports would receive more than $33 million in federal funding. RFD will receive $18.6 million to further assist it to prepare for, and respond to, disruption caused by Covid-19. Additionally, this funding will help ongoing safety and capacity projects to continue as planned.
“We want to thank Senator Dick Durbin, Senator Tammy Duckworth and Congresswoman Cheri Bustos for their commitment to helping this funding pass,” said Dunn. “They have been ardent supporters of RFD and their dedication will ensure that we further enhance our operations to serve more businesses and individuals while continuing to serve our region as an economic driver.”