Delta to Suspend CAK Service Through September

Delta Airlines will suspend service to Akron-Canton Airport between May 15 and Sept. 30.

The carrier said it has won U.S. Department of Transportation approval to suspend flights to CAK and nine other airports after successfully arguing that they are part of a larger market that Delta plans to continue serving from another airport within that market.

In the case of Akron-Canton the larger market is Cleveland.

Akron-Canton airport officials sought to dispute that in April, telling DOT in a letter that CAK should be considered to be its own market and not part of the Cleveland market.

“If given the option to pick either CAK or CLE – but not required by any obligation to separately serve the different markets of both, the public served by CAK will undoubtedly suffer by immediate or significantly greater loss of service with the order as written,” airport officials wrote to DOT on April 2.

The letter was referring to a clause in the CARES Act requiring airlines to serve all current markets as a condition of receiving federal emergency aid.

However, DOT ruled that airports in close proximity could be considered to be part of one market.

The CAK letter to DOT said suspending flights to CAK would cause “a real practical loss of air service,” particularly to areas south of Akron and along the Interstate Route 77 corridor.

Akron-Canton officials also expressed fear of losing service and even losing long-term viability if airlines are allowed to treat CAK as part of the Cleveland market.

Delta flies from Akron-Canton to Atlanta. Until the pandemic began, it operated three flights a day between CAK and Atlanta.

One of those flights was flown by a Boeing 737 operated by Delta while the other two flights operated with regional jet equipment flown under contract by another company using the Delta Connection brand.

At one time in the past five years, Delta operated four roundtrips a day with MD80 jets between the two airports.

In early April, service on the CAK-Atlanta route was reduced to sometimes two flights a day and then to one flight daily that arrives in late evening and returns the next morning.

On May 2 that flight transitioned from a Delta 737 flight to a regional jet Delta Connection flight.

Delta flies to more destinations from Cleveland, but since the onset of the pandemic has reduced its Cleveland service to primarily serving Atlanta.

Lisa Dalpiaz, CAK’s director of marketing and air service development, said Delta plans to resume serving Akron-Canton.

“The suspension is specifically tied to their financial situation due to the pandemic, and not on performance of the route.”

A Delta news release said the service cuts at CAK and nine other airports are due to passenger traffic being “significantly reduced.”

Delta also said it would cut its schedules by 85 percent in the second quarter of 2020.

In the meantime, Akron-Canton continues to see service, albeit at reduced levels, provided by American Airlines to Philadelphia and Charlotte, and by United Airlines to Chicago.

In recent weeks those carriers have been operating one flight a day from CAK to those destinations.

Dalpiaz said American, which serves Akron-Canton with its American Eagle brand service using regional jets, is expected to reinstate some service in July.

Before the pandemic American also flew from CAK to Reagan Washington National Airport, Chicago O’Hare Airport and New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

Akron-Canton Airport is considered essential infrastructure during the pandemic and has remained open, but it has lost 95 percent of its normal passenger traffic there.

Delta is Akron-Canton’s third largest carrier, handling 20 percent of the airport’s 835,000 passengers in 2019.

Delta is also suspending service to Chicago Midway; Oakland, Hollywood Burbank and Long Beach in California; Providence, Rhode Island; Manchester, New Hampshire; Westchester County and Stewart International in New York; and Newport News/Williamsburg in Virginia.

In an unrelated development, the Akron-Canton Airport will pay a local artist $5,000 to create a piece for a new section of terrazzo floor planned for the airport’s atrium.

Artists or teams can contact the airport administration office for project details and requirements. Proposals are due June 5 with the winner being named the next week.

The design is part of a $155,000 project to replace the atrium’s current terrazzo flooring beyond the security checkpoint.

The artwork will be within a 2,700-square-foot section of atrium floor near an existing compass and be installed in October.

The request for proposals said the artist will have the option to retain the compass or remove it.

The winning design must represent a “sense of place” to Akron and Canton.

The elements of the design should have thoughtful design, efficiency, artistic harmony, a blend of form and function and an element of wayfinding while contributing to the architectural and cultural heritage of the region including local customs, styles or cultural attitudes.

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