Hopkins Users Give Wish List for Airport Improvements in Master Plan Revision Hearings

Users of Cleveland Hopkins Airport last week gave their wish lists of improvements they want to see at the airport.

Those include additional parking, improvements to the roadways into the airport, wider concourses, more use of public transportation to the airport, a better location for rental cars, fewer security checkpoints, and improvements to the U.S. Customs facilities.

Those were among the wishes expressed by those responding to the first public hearing to be held as part of the process of revising the airport’s master plan.

Some, all or none of those recommendations will ultimately be adopted and those that are accepted will take years to implement.

The airport has hired a Florida consulting firm to oversee the rewriting of the master plan.

Airport Director Robert Kennedy said during last week’s hearing that the future of the unused Concourse D remains unresolved.

It was built in 1999 for smaller aircraft that supported the hub operations of Continental Airlines.

But that hub was closed in 2014 when the Cleveland hub was shut down by United Airlines, which had acquired Continental in 2010.

Kennedy described Concourse D as a “distressed asset” because it was designed to accommodate smaller planes, many of which no longer use Hopkins.

The airport director said Cleveland is unlikely to become a hub airport again and officials said the downturn in international travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic means that it is likely to be some time before Cleveland lands a nonstop flight to Europe.

The pandemic has depressed air traffic at Hopkins and officials said it may take at least three to four years to recover.

Hopkins handled 10 million passengers in 2019 but is expected to see far less than that this year. The consulting firm projects traffic will reach 11 million to 13 million by 2029.

In the meantime, the airport has begun work on a new ground transportation center located north of the terminal for passengers to board shuttle buses to off-site hotels and parking lots.

The facility will include covered seating areas, wider walking areas and be heated. It is expected to open in November.

In a related development, American Airlines said it will launch Saturday-only service between Cleveland and Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport on Nov. 7.

It will be the second time American has flown the route, having dropped it about four years ago. Frontier and Southwest also fly between the two cities.

American plans to operate a 160-seat Boeing 737-800 on the route and it aiming at leisure travelers with flights departing Cleveland at 10:45 a.m. and returning at 8:05 p.m.

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