Allegiant to Stop Flying to Cleveland in January

Low fare carrier Allegiant Air will cease flying to Cleveland Hopkins Airport next January, citing high fees which it said would make it difficult to hold fares down.

The last Allegiant flight will take off from Hopkins on Jan. 3, 2022.

Passengers holding tickets for travel on Allegiant from Cleveland after that date will be offered a refund of their paid fare or accommodated on Allegiant flights serving other airports.

Allegiant flies from Cleveland to seven destinations, including five in Florida. It accounts for 3 percent of Hopkins passenger traffic.

In a statement, Allegiant’s Hilarie Grey, managing director of corporate communications, said the carrier’s flights in Cleveland had been “very successful” but the decision to leave Hopkins was rooted in the airport’s cost structure.

 “Unfortunately with the airport’s construction projects and major expansion, the cost structure has become prohibitive to our operation – our business model hinges upon our ability to keep fares low for our customers,” Grey said.

Allegiant began flying to Hopkins in 2017 after ending its flights to Akron-Canton Airport.

The website Simply Flying suggested that Allegiant might eye a return to CAK as an alternative to flying to Hopkins.

It cited the example of Columbus where Allegiant uses Rickenbacker International Airport rather than John Glenn Columbus International Airport.

Allegiant is the only passenger carrier at Rickenbacker, which also serves charter flights and air cargo operations.

Cleveland’s Allegiant flight destinations include Orlando-Sanford, Punta Gorda, Sarasota, St. Petersburg and Jacksonville in Florida and Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah-Hilton Head, Georgia.

None of those flights operate daily, which is typical for many routes offered by low fare carriers.

Airline fees at Hopkins have traditionally been among the highest in the industry.

Airport officials said that despite some recent construction projects, those fees have not increased to pay for them.

However, Hopkins and many other airports saw the fees they charge airlines spike during the COVID-19 pandemic due to diminished passenger traffic. Those fees were expected to diminish as traffic rebuilt.

A story in The Plain Dealer/Cleveland.com said fees at Hopkins are structured to reward carriers that fly more. That hurt Allegiant because its flights operate less than once daily.

Hopkins Airport director Robert Kennedy said he has sought to keep airline fees in check by cutting the airport’s debt and increasing revenue from non-airline operations.

Nonetheless, Hopkins has begun the process of planning to build a new airport terminal and airline fees are expected to help fund that.

Construction of the new terminal is not expected to begin until 2025 at the earliest.

 In other airline news affecting Hopkins, United Airlines plans to launch service on Dec. 18 from Cleveland to Lynden Pindling International Airport in Nassau in the Bahamas.

The Saturday-only flights will be the only direct service to the Caribbean from Cleveland this winter.

The flights will use Embraer 175 regional jets, meaning they will be operated by a contract carrier flying under the United Express banner.

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