Chicago Rockford International Airport has been a magnet lately for cargo airlines, and their executives.
And the international cargo world is watching.
Executives from Japan-based Nippon Cargo Airlines were in Rockford Sunday to observe how the airport moves freight through the airport, then in or out of the cargo logistics network around Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Monday the NCA entourage toured the airport, Woodward and had lunch with airport officials.
“I think they were impressed,” said Airport Board Chairman Bharat Puri.
While global cargo shipments have lagged in recent months, Rockford’s efforts to position itself among carriers as a quicker, cheaper cargo destination to O’Hare appears to be gaining traction.
Monday, Cargonews Asia highlighted Rockford in a story proclaiming that “Nippon Cargo Airlines brought a new airport into the fold of US gateways for Asian cargo.”
NCA’s interest involves the new Boeing 747-8s that the airline has ordered. Rockford was among the first airports certified to land the new model.
Shawn McWhorter, NCA’s president for the Americas, told Cargonews that there are operational issues for the airline at O’Hare when it comes to Boeing’s newest, largest air freighter.
“You can fly in and use the taxiways, but you have to use remote parking positions. Those at the cargo terminal are not big enough for the 747-8 ,” McWhorter said. “It works for carriers that operate off airport, like Korean Air or Polar. They can bring in the 747-8. We need to put the airplane behind the building.”
O’Hare is NCA’s Midwest gateway and recently automobile parts have been major exports from the U.S. and Canada to NCA’s home market.