Leveraging Air Cargo and Passenger Opportunity in the Chicago Region

Airport Master Plan Update

Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) | Rockford, IL

Located on the outskirts of the Chicago metropolitan area, the Chicago-Rockford International Airport serves a market well beyond its local population. Over the years, a UPS next-day air cargo hub and sustained passenger service on a variety of airlines generated both revenue opportunities and the capital expenditure challenges of funding adequate facilities. When a lagging economy caused airport demand to fluctuate, the Greater Rockford Airport Authority decided it was time to take a fresh look at their growth strategy.

Crawford, Murphy & Tilly (CMT) was selected to conduct a multi-phased Master Plan study, which compiled significant levels of user data to define and explore new growth opportunities in both passenger and cargo markets. The first phase of the study emphasized aviation and non-aviation demand opportunities that would leverage the facilities, property assets, and low-cost advantage of the airport, along with its proximity and roadway network to the Greater Chicago metropolitan area. That effort identified both potential prospects for growth of existing aviation operations, and the introduction of new users that would benefit from the airport’s advantages.

Large Aircraft Infrastructure
Specifically, the study identified major demand opportunities for air cargo services that were associated with the international freight forwarding community and the development of a large aircraft maintenance, repair & overhaul (MRO) facility. The planning effort provided much needed analysis that was instrumental in helping to secure a major MRO operation capable of accommodating two 747-800s or two Airbus A380s simultaneously.

Enhancing Passenger Growth Opportunities
Employing extensive market research on passenger dynamics, the Master Plan identified potential market capture and stimulation initiatives that would drive passenger growth.

The commercial passenger terminal went through an extensive vetting process to identify short-term building and gate improvements to improve passenger flow and processing. Ultimately, the planned solution integrated the domestic and international passenger terminals into a single facility, and has resulted in an on-going, multi-year expansion and renovation project.

Project Contact(s)

Bradley Hamilton, PE, CM

Project Service(s)

  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Planning
  • Program Development