ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — In 2019, Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) gained worldwide recognition for its ability to move cargo, but the number of passengers using the airport has also increased.
DeKalb native Katie Bodziak normally travels to Chicago’s O’Hare or Midway Airport to fly, but on Wednesday, she decided to use RFD for the first time, saying it’s more convenient for herself and her two children, Oliver and Hazel.
“We are going to Punta Gorda to see my mom, see grandma,” she said. “It’s way closer than O’Hare or Midway.”
Bodziak said parking at RFD is very affordable, and she was pleasantly surprised to discover how easy it was to get ready for departure.
In comparison, she says O’Hare and Midway’s large crowds can cause problems.
“It’s insane. Just to even get from the airport to the parking lot is a whole half-hour situation,” she said.
Bodziak is one of many who are turning to RFD when they need to fly.
The Rockford airport welcomed nearly 250,000 passengers in 2019.
Airport executive director Mike Dunn said, “We love the success we are having in cargo, and cargo has created a lot of jobs for the region. But, by no means are we giving up and losing [our] intention on the passenger stuff. We continue to push for that.”
Dunn says new destinations have contributed to the increase in passenger flights.
“In 2019, we introduced by Destin, Florida and Sarasota, Florida, and for the first year, they were both very successful.”
RFD is trying to expand the destinations available.
Bodziak has a few suggestions:
“The East Coast, actually. Like New York. We have family in Pittsburgh, so the East Coast would be nice,” she said.
RFD says that the airport created 2,000 new jobs in 2019. They anticipate a further 1,000 will be created this year.