Open main menu

Chicago Rockford International Airport

Chicago Rockford International Airport (IATA: RFD, ICAO: KRFD, FAA LID: RFD), is an international airport located in Winnebago County, Illinois. It is located four miles (6 km) south of the city center of Rockford and 85 miles northwest of Chicago.[1] Established in 1946, Chicago-Rockford International Airport is the third-busiest airport in Northern Illinois, behind Chicago O'Hare and Chicago Midway. In 2016, the airport served nearly 102,000 passengers.[4]

Chicago Rockford International Airport
Chicago Rockford International Airport.jpg
Chicago-Rockford Airport main terminal
Airport typePublic
OwnerGreater Rockford Airport Authority
ServesChicago and Rockford, Illinois
LocationRockford, Illinois
Hub forUPS Airlines
Built1987 (current terminal)
Elevation AMSL742 ft / 226 m
Coordinates42°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 of airport in Illinois
RFD is located in the United States
RFD (the United States)
Direction Length Surface
ft m
1/19 8,200 2,499 Asphalt
7/25 10,002 3,049 Asphalt/Concrete
Aircraft operations (2017)39,462
Based aircraft (2018)114
Total Passengers Served (12 months ending Jan 2018)191,000
Cargo handled (12 months ending Jan 2018)457,000,000 lbs.

Chicago-Rockford was the 29th busiest cargo airport in the United States for 2016, with nearly 923 million pounds of cargo moved through the airport.[5][6] Since 1994, the airport has served as a major hub for UPS Airlines, which operates two facilities at the airport. In terms of passenger service, the airport offers year-round direct service to five destinations, along with additional destinations offered on a seasonal basis. It is included in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2017–2021, in which it is categorized as a non-hub primary commercial service facility.[7]

From 1986 to 1994 and from 2005 to 2015, the airport served as the home of Rockford AirFest (currently on hiatus).



RFD traces its history back to 1917, when Camp Grant was established during World War I as a 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).[8] 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 as a selling point.

Airport layoutEdit

Chicago Rockford International Airport covers 2,900 acres (1,200 ha) and has two runways, both with an ILS: 1/19 is 8,200 x 150 ft. (2,499 x 46 m) and 7/25 is 10,002 x 150 ft. (3,049 x 46 m). In 2017 the airport had 39,462 aircraft operations, average 108 per day: 61% general aviation, 31% scheduled commercial, 4% military, and 3% air taxi.[1]

Passenger facilitiesEdit

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.[9][10] In 2017, the airport received a grant to expand both passenger terminals and cargo areas.[11]

Cargo facilitiesEdit

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.[12]

Located southwest of the UPS ramp, in 2008, the airport constructed a third cargo ramp and a 72,000 square foot warehouse.[13] In 2016, the facilities were leased for the first time to ABX Air to transfer air freight to trucks through the facility.[13]

Airlines and destinationsEdit


Top destinationsEdit

View of main terminal from runway.
Busiest domestic routes from RFD
(Feb 2017 – Jan 2018)[14]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Punta Gorda, Florida 23,630 Allegiant
2 Phoenix/Mesa, Arizona 20,230 Allegiant
3 Orlando/Sanford, Florida 18,850 Allegiant
4 St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Florida 18,360 Allegiant
5 Las Vegas, Nevada 14,790 Allegiant
6 Bullhead City, AZ 150 Sun Country

The airport was once served as the company headquarters for Ryan International Airlines which based many of its aircraft at the airport for charter flights. Ryan operated a diverse fleet of mainline narrow and widebody jetliners. It ceased all operations in 2013.

Historical airline serviceEdit

Several airlines have previously served the airport including United Express, Hooters Air, Frontier Airlines (both the current version and original Frontier), Britt Airways, Skyway Airlines and successor Midwest Connect, Midway Connection, TransMeridian Airlines, American Eagle, Trans World Airlines (TWA), Ozark Air Lines, McClain Airlines, Direct Air and Northwest Airlink (code sharing service operated by Express Airlines I, Mesaba Airlines and Pinnacle Airlines).

A number of these air carriers operated mainline jet service into the airport. Ozark operated Douglas DC-9-10 and McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 jets nonstop to Chicago O'Hare Airport and direct to Denver in 1976.[15] TWA flew Boeing 727-100 and Boeing 727-200 service from Rockford to Chicago O'Hare in the 1980s for a brief time. McClain Airlines operated Boeing 727-100 flights nonstop to Chicago O'Hare. The original Frontier Airlines (1950-1986) also served Rockford from 1984 until late 1986 with Boeing 737-200 jets nonstop to Cedar Rapids, Madison and Milwaukee with direct service to Denver[16] when the operation was transferred to Britt Airways which operated commuter turboprop service for a short time. Direct Air served the airport until March 2012.[17] The current version of Frontier offered mainline service to Denver until 2013. It also offered several charter flights, on behalf of Apple Vacations.[18]

Coleman Air Transport, a regional airline, operated a small hub at RFD during the latter part of the 1970s with Grumman Gulfstream I propjets and was planning to introduce Douglas DC-9-10 jet service nonstop to New York LaGuardia Airport before losing its operating certificate, ceasing all flights and going out of business.[19]

Recent (since 2002)
Historical (before 2002)


Rockford AirFestEdit

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.[20] 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.

The Airfest was indefinitely canceled in 2016. Airport officials say "The airport has become too busy to shut down the airport for a weekend."[21]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c FAA Airport Master Record for RFD (Form 5010 PDF), effective April 26, 2018
  2. ^ Passenger Boarding (Enplanement) and All-Cargo Data for U.S. Airports, Federal Aviation Administration,
  3. ^ "FAA CY12 Cargo Airports" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-05-03.
  4. ^ "FAA | Preliminary Enplanements at All Commercial Service Airports (by Rank), 3 July 2017" (PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  5. ^ 2017, UBM (UK) Ltd. "RFD Releases 2016 Passenger and Cargo Numbers :: Routesonline". Retrieved 2017-09-18.
  6. ^ "Final CY 2016 Qualifying Cargo Airports, Rank Order, and Percent Change from 2015, 1 September 2017" (PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. 1 September 2017. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  7. ^ "List of NPIAS Airports" (PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. 21 October 2016. Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  8. ^ The Passenger Seat » Another airport name change (this time, it's simple) Archived July 4, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Chuck Sweeny (2012-11-28). "Don Manzullo honored with international terminal name - Blogs - Rockford Register Star - Rockford, IL". Retrieved 2018-05-03.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-03-15. Retrieved 2015-09-14.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ Correspondent, Robert Crozier. "Rockford airport celebrates $10.5M for cargo apron, passenger terminal expansions". Rockford Register Star. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  12. ^ "RFD Agreement with International MRO Provider, AAR, to Bring Jobs, Offer Expanded Service Capabilities to Rockford – General News – News | AAR Corporate". Retrieved 2015-10-21.
  13. ^ a b Guerrero, Isaac. "Exclusive: New daily cargo flight to create jobs at Chicago Rockford International Airport". Rockford Register Star. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  14. ^ "RITA BTS Transtats - RFD". January 2018.
  15. ^, Sept. 1, 1976 Ozark Air Lines system timetable
  16. ^, Feb. 15, 1985 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Rockford flight schedules
  17. ^ Heath, Dan (April 12, 2012). "Direct Air bankruptcy goes to Chapter 7". Plattsburgh Press-Republican. Retrieved April 16, 2012.
  18. ^ Brian Leaf RRSTAR.COM. "Frontier Airlines will not resume Rockford-Denver route - News - Rockford Register Star - Rockford, IL". Retrieved 2018-05-03.
  19. ^, Nov. 15, 1979 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Rockford flight schedules
  20. ^ "Experimental Aircraft Fly-In". Flying Magazine: 36. November 1960.
  21. ^ "Airshow stuff".

External linksEdit