By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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ROCKFORD — The Chicago Rockford International Airport has landed a new 10-year lease with the world’s largest aviation services provider.
Menzies Aviation, which has operations in 58 countries, will expand its U.S. cargo operations to the Rockford airport starting June 1. The lease was approved by the Greater Rockford Airport Authority at its Jan. 26 board meeting.
“We’re pleased to be partnering with globally recognized air cargo handler Menzies Aviation,” Mike Dunn, the executive director of RFD, said in a news release. “The Menzies investment in Chicago Rockford International Airport is testament to our airport infrastructure and the efficiencies that can be achieved in air cargo outside of the large passenger hub airports.”
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The company will occupy the International Cargo Center at RFD and provide cargo and freighter handling services to chartered and scheduled flights, the airport said in a news release.
“Over the past eight years, we have invested over $200 million in air cargo operations. This investment has helped build RFD as one of the largest economic engines in the Rockford region and northern Illinois and grown RFD’s ability to handle large-scale operations, while remaining efficient and providing our partners with the ability to move goods quicker and saving them time and costs,” Dunn said. “With Emery Air, the first cargo handler to operate at RFD, and Menzies Aviation working on the field, we expect enhanced growth of our international cargo business.”
60-70 jobs coming
Menzies Aviation will occupy the 50,000-square-foot Building 3 of the cargo center. The company will employ approximately 60 to 70 people, and recruitment will begin in the second quarter of the year. Jobs include cargo service agents, cargo clerical operations agents, ramp agents, load masters and leadership positions.
“We have agreed to a long-term lease with RFD to occupy a state-of-the-art facility that includes pharmaceutical handling capabilities,” Robert Fordree, executive vice president cargo of Menzies Aviation, said in a news release. “With direct airside access, we will provide cargo and freighter handling to chartered and scheduled flights by the middle of this year and will be hiring a team to run our operations in the coming months.
“As well as fitting out the new facility, we are aiming for most of the ground service equipment to be electric to support Menzies’ goal of becoming neutral by 2033.”
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The Rockford airport is also home to the second-largest UPS hub in North America, and it is a significant base of operations for Amazon Air and other cargo operations.
“Emphasis on the importance of secondary airports like RFD were highlighted during the pandemic as nearby passenger hubs reached capacity and carriers looked elsewhere,” Fordree said. “Despite the current, cyclical downturn in cargo volume, we see secondary airports becoming more attractive due to less congestion, lower costs and great surrounding infrastructure, which will expedite goods getting from airport to final destination.”
This article is by Kevin Haas. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @KevinMHaas or Instagram @thekevinhaas