Rockford Reaches higher – Chicago’s “other” airport

Rockford Reaches higher – Chicago’s other airport

Rockford Reaches higher – Chicago’s other airport

Quick, how many commercial airports serve Chicago? O’Hare, check. Midway, yup. But how about Rockford? Located some 75 minutes northwest of O’Hare, RFD is fast emerging as a legitimate low-fare alternative for Chicagoland travelers.

Latest evidence is Frontier Airlines’ decision to launch nonstop Denver flights to Rockford. Thrice-weekly flights get off the ground Dec. 15. No mere regional jet run, Frontier will be using a 138-seat Airbus A319 on the route.

As of May 2011 more than 96,189 passengers had flown out of RFD on a year-to-date basis – a 23 percent increase over the same period in 2009. On average the airport says flights have been 89 percent full. That’s a huge load factor (the percentage of seats filled by paying passengers). Obviously, someone’s paying attention to this suburban Chicago airport.

“We continue to prove that the more flights we can offer at RFD, the more passengers we get to fill them,” asserts Bharat Puri, chairman of the Greater Rockford Airport Board of Commissioners.

RFD’s prime mover is discount airline Allegiant Air. The carrier flies its venerable MD80s from Rockford to a quartet of destinations. There are Rockford flights to Las Vegas, Tampa Bay, Orlando and Phoenix. Discount airline Direct Air is also an RFD player. It lofts Rockford flights to the Ft. Myers area, and Rockford flights to West Palm Beach. Apple Vacations will again field Rockford flights to Cancun come late December, as well as Rockford flights to Punta Cana. Trans-oceanic international lift? RFD is able to accommodate larger long-range jets by virtue of a 10,000-foot runway, a strip that’s a full third longer than Chicago Midway’s.

These days, it’s all about exercising your options. And on some routes, if you’re flexible as to departure days, Rockford is a real alternative to far busier Chicago O’Hare and Midway.

Source: Story by Jerry Chandler

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