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Chicago Rockford posts 77pc cargo leap as Midwest e-commerce hub

CHICAGO Rockford International Airport has handled 77 per cent more cargo year on year in the first 10 months of 2018 to 1

Chicago Rockford posts 77pc cargo leap as Midwest e-commerce hub

CHICAGO Rockford International Airport has handled 77 per cent more cargo year on year in the first 10 months of 2018 to 1

03 January 2019 - 19:00

CHICAGO Rockford International Airport has handled 77 per cent more cargo year on year in the first 10 months of 2018 to 1.7 billion pounds, according to airport authorities.

United Parcel Service (UPS), which operates its second-largest air freight hub in the nation there, has increased its daily cargo flights to Rockford from 34 to more than 40.



That will now grow to more than 50 daily flights after Thanksgiving and up to nearly 70 daily flights two weeks before Christmas.



'It's been pretty busy around here for the last month or so,' said airport operations director Zach Oakley.



Rockford aims to be a Midwest e-commerce hub, and the first steps toward that goal were taken in 2016, he said.



That's when ABX Air began ferrying cargo through Rockford for online retail giant Amazon.com. Air Transport International, an affiliate of ABX, also is routing freight through Rockford for Amazon, as is Atlas Air, another leader in the air cargo industry, said the airport statement.



Cargo operators serving Amazon are routing six flights a day through Rockford, and many of the jets are emblazoned with Amazon's 'Prime Air' logo.



The city's airport became the nation's 22nd busiest in terms of cargo activity - up from 31st in 2017 - according to the Federal Aviation Administration (F).



Rockford's air cargo boom is translating into more revenue for its airport. Midway through its 2019 fiscal year, the airport has earned US$130,000 more in landing fees - money collected from each plane that lands at the airport - than it budgeted, said deputy finance director Shelly Cassaro.



Incoming freight goes to an 80,000-square foot cargo terminal that the airport leases to LGSTX, the real estate arm of ATI and ABX Air's parent company.



There, packages are warehoused before leaving Rockford on trucks or jets bound for fulfilment centres or other destinations.



A $5 million expansion of the apron serving the airport's airfreight operations is underway. A $10 million, 120,000-square foot expansion of the airport's cargo warehouse opens this week, and discussions with Rockford Mass Transit District are underway to add a bus stop at the terminal to serve employees when the project concludes.


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