Hopkins Traffic Rose 6.5% in 2015

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport announced recently that passenger traffic in 2015 rose by 6.5 percent while the average fare fell by 21 percent.

The airport said that 8.1 million passengers used the airport last year, an increase of 490,669 from 2014.

Cleveland HopkinsIn a news release, Hopkins officials said the U.S. Department of Transportation’s latest analysis of average airfares shows that Hopkins saw a reduction in its average one-way airfare from $444 to $352. Nationally, the average airfare dropped only 6 percent to an average cost of $372.

The gains in passenger traffic at Hopkins came in the wake of low-fare airlines adding service in the wake of the decision by United Airlines to close its Cleveland hub in 2014.

“After United Airlines drastically cut its use of CLE in July of 2014, many thought that our best days were behind us,” said interim airport director Fred Szabo. “However, to the contrary, CLE has experienced an unprecedented recovery in the past 18 months.”

Most of the flights eliminated by United had been flown with regional jets. Most of the new flights use larger Airbus or Boeing 737 aircraft.

The larger planes have meant that the number of seats on flights departing from Hopkins has risen by 310,045 seats.

Hopkins is in the midst of a $62 million airport upgrade program that includes a terminal façade renovation, parking enhancements, new airport signage and a new baggage system.

In 2014, Hopkins handled 7.61 million passengers. Even with the uptick in 2015, the airport is still well below the 9.18 million it handled in 2011 or the 13.29 million it saw in 2000.

Airline analyst Henry Harteveldt, founder of the Atmosphere Research Group, told The Plain Dealer that the rising traffic at Hopkins is good news because U.S. airlines have not been investing heavily in the domestic market.

“For the most part, domestic travel grows 2 to 3 percent a year,” he said. “Clearly, the low-fare airlines like Spirit and Frontier that have entered the market have helped stimulate travel.”

Also launching service from Hopkins last year was JetBlue. Between them, the three low-fare carriers are serving 20 destinations from Cleveland with additional cities to be added this spring.

Harteveldt said it remains to be seen if Hopkins can come all the way back from the United cuts.

“Clearly, if the airlines are seeing growth in Cleveland with what they’re doing and that growth is profitable, they are more likely to consider adding service there,” he said.

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