The Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) announced Menzies Aviation, the world’s largest aviation services provider with operations in 58 countries, will expand its U.S. cargo operations to RFD. The company will occupy the International Cargo Center at RFD and provide cargo and freighter handling services to chartered and scheduled flights. The Greater Rockford Airport Authority (GRAA) approved a lease agreement at its Jan. 26 board meeting. The 10-year lease term will commence June 1. “We’re pleased to be partnering with globally recognised air cargo handler Menzies Aviation. 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,” Mike Dunn, executive director of RFD, said.
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“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. 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. We look forward to developing our partnership with Menzies Aviation and welcoming them to the RFD community.”
Menzies Aviation will occupy Building 3 of the International Cargo Center. The 50,000-square-foot facility will provide the global aviation services company with the space needed to conduct business and grow its operations and support its long-term sustainability goals.“We have agreed to a long-term lease with RFD to occupy a state-of-the-art facility that includes pharmaceutical handling capabilities. 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,” Robert Fordree, Executive Vice President Cargo of Menzies Aviation, said.
Menzies Aviation will create approximately 60-70 additional jobs on airport grounds and recruitment will begin the second quarter of the year. Jobs include cargo service agents, cargo clerical operations agents, ramp agents, load masters, in addition to leadership positions.
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Over the past several years, the reliability of smaller, secondary airports, like RFD, has been highlighted because of ease of access, sustainable and lower-cost fuel operations, longevity of aircraft, lower overall costs, and a stable workforce. Menzies cited RFD’s size, location and “can do” attitude as selling points for its 72nd cargo location.“Emphasis on the importance of secondary airports like RFD were highlighted during the pandemic as nearby passenger hubs reached capacity and carriers looked elsewhere. 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. In combination, these benefits will result in significant carbon savings to the shippers. We are confident that, in partnership with RFD, we will attract scheduled freighters and specialised cargo to be handled safely, efficiently and with the required certified standards applied,” Fordree added. RFD is home to the second-largest UPS hub in North America, a major base of operations for Amazon Air, and serves numerous international airlines and freight forwarders including DB Schenker, DSV, HAE, Senator International, ABX Air, ATI, National Airlines, and Atlas Air. With the airport’s ongoing cargo expansion, Rockford has become a Midwest hub for e-commerce and international freight.