The Chicago/Rockford International Airport is celebrating a milestone. It was 10 years ago this month when passenger service returned to the facility.
Commuter planes had stopped flying out of RFD in 2001. Zach Sundquist is the airport's director of air service development. He says the failed approach involved flying to hubs like Minneapolis.
When passenger service resumed, the airport focused on vacation destinations to attract passengers. With the exception of the recent recession, Sundquist says they've been able to maintain steady growth.
Bob O'Brien was RFD's executive director ten years ago. He says community support was huge in getting commercial airlines to come back to Rockcord.
“They responded with a 20 day, 269-thousand dollar fundraiser,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien orchestrated the fundraiser. He left the airport in 2011 amid a feud with RFD’s authority board. While he’s proud of the accomplishment, he says the airport has yet to reach its potential growth. In response, airport officials note that flights are near capacity, and that March was their busiest month ever for passenger traffic.
In 2014, the airport says it hopes to pass the two-million passenger mark since the return of commercial air-service.