Menzies adds Chicago RFD operation as it looks to grow at secondary airports

Chicago Rockford (RFD). Credit: Dave Lindberg.

Menzies Aviation will add a cargo handling operation at fast-growing Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) this summer as it expects continued growth at alternative gateways.

In January, the handler signed a 10-year lease agreement with the Greater Rockford Airport Authority which is due to commence on June 1.

Menzies will occupy building three at the International Cargo Center at RFD and provide cargo and freighter handling services to chartered and scheduled flights.

“The 50,000 sq ft 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,” the airport stated in a press release.

Robert Fordree, executive vice president cargo of Menzies Aviation, said: “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.”

Explaining the decision to start operations at the airport, Fordree said that less congested airports were growing in popularity.

“Emphasis on the importance of secondary airports like RFD were highlighted during the pandemic as nearby passenger hubs reached capacity and carriers looked elsewhere,” he 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.

“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 specialized cargo to be handled safely, efficiently and with the required certified standards applied.”

Mike Dunn, executive director of RFD, added: “Over the past eight years, we have invested over $200m 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.”

RFD is home to the second-largest UPS hub in North America, a major base of operations for Amazon Air, and serves international airlines and freight forwarders including DB Schenker, DSV, HAE, Senator International, ABX Air, ATI, National Airlines, and Atlas Air.

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.

Chicago Rockford adds cargo community system as volumes surge

Emery Air wins Chicago contract

Emirates SkyCargo adds Chicago Rockford flights

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Damian Brett

Damian Brett
I have been writing about the freight and logistics industry since 2007 when I joined International Freighting Weekly to cover the shipping sector. After a stint in PR, I have gone on to work for Containerisation International and Lloyds List - where I was editor of container shipping - before joining Air Cargo News in 2015. Contact me on [email protected]