socastcmsRssStartBy Scot Bertram | Illinois News NetworksocastcmsRssEnd
Amazon is set to expand its air cargo operation in Illinois.
The e-commerce giant has been operating at the Chicago Rockford International Airport facility for about a year. Officials now say they’ll more than double the company’s footprint at RFD and plan to increase the number of cargo flights in and out of the facility.
“In my mind, the biggest thing that happened yesterday was the fact that Amazon itself made it official that Chicago Rockford International is now one of their primary airports,” airport Executive Director Mike Dunn said. “They fly in an out of 20 airports in the U.S., but Rockford is in the top three.”
Amazon currently runs seven flights each day at the airport. Dunn expects that number to increase. A 120,000-square-foot addition is planned for the company’s existing 72,000-square-foot building.
“We have been led to believe hiring will increase significantly,” Dunn said. “We do know now with becoming permanent and with the expansion, there will be jobs made available in logistics and trucking and handling and fueling.”
The Rockford airport already is UPS’s second-largest air hub in North America. Dunn said RFD is becoming a key player in the cargo industry.
“The cargo guys have figured out they can get in-and-out of Rockford much easier and satisfy their customers,” Dunn said. “We can get trucks from Rockford to distribution centers probably as fast as they can get them out of O’Hare.”
Dunn said the airport can handle whatever kind of growth Amazon has in store, with more than 3,000 acres available on the property.
“I tell people that on a scale of one-to-ten, with ten being totally maximized and utilized, our airport isn’t even past one right now. We have a very large facility with good infrastructure, so our capacity is huge.”
The Chicago Rockford Airport set a record with almost 1.4 million pounds of cargo handled in 2017. Fueled in large part by Amazon’s growth, the facility surpassed that number in just the first ten months of this year.
“We’re going to be disappointed if we don’t go over 2-billion pounds in 2018, and if that happens, we’ll be in the top 15 or 20 cargo airports in the country,” Dunn said.
Construction on Amazon’s expanded facility in Rockford is expected to be complete by mid-2019.