Rockford vs. Peotone? Not Likely Says Airport Director

Aug 2, 2013

Credit flickr/ dougward / Creative Commons

Governor Quinn recently signed a measure to re-ignite plans for another Chicago-area airport. The announcement doesn't seem to pose a major threat to Rockford's airport.

The Peotone Airport has been in the works for decades, so it's no surprise many are still skeptical the project will get off the ground. The legislation allows the state's transportation department to spend around $70 million to buy more land for Peotone. The plan is still under review by the FAA.

In addition to Midway and O'Hare, the region also has the Chicago-Rockford International Airport.

Rockford Register-Star senior political editor Chuck Sweeny says the bill signing is part of Quinn's re-election campaign:

"I think right now the governor needs to create some hope in all parts of the state. I think that's one of his strategies in the Peotone/Joliet/south suburbs area-- the promise that there will be 14,000 jobs." Sweeny said.

The airport project has been stalled for decades due to disagreements over local and political control.

Sweeny says the best public relations strategy for Rockford leaders is to stay out of the debate:

"The FAA has been very positive about the Rockford airport, so why jeopardize it by going into a negative mode for an airport that, frankly, may never happen," Sweeny said.

Mike Dunn is Executive Director of the Chicago Rockford International Airport. He seems to be taking that advice.

"We are very confident that this governor understands the importance of this [Rockford] airport to northern Illinois. We look forward to his and the state's continued support." - Mike Dunn, Executive Director, Chicago Rockford International Airport

Dunn says he doesn't view Peotone as competition:

"Passengers that are coming to Rockford are not passengers that are going to be going down to the Joliet or the Peotone area," Dunn said.

Dunn also says the Rockford airport has an established cargo service that would be difficult to rival.

Quinn announced this week $1.3 million for the Rockford Airport as part of the state's capital construction program. The money will be used to replace the airport's perimeter fencing.