Posts Tagged ‘air travel’

Hopkins Traffic Down 59% in 2020

January 25, 2021

As expected 2020 figures for commercial passenger traffic at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport took a deep dive due to the COVID-19 pandemic depressing the air travel market.

Airport officials said 4.1 million passengers used Hopkins last year, a sharp downturn from the previous year when 10.04 million boarded or deplaned at the airport.

The 2020 figures were by far the lowest of the past decade when the previous low was 7.61 million handled in 2014.

Although airline traffic at Hopkins in 2020 was down 59 percent, that was not as bad as the national average of 62 percent based on travel through October, the latest month for which figures are available from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

The worst month at Hopkins in 2020 was April when it handled 30,149 passengers, a decline of more than 96% from April 2019.

The best month was December when the airport saw 333,526 passengers. That was still a 59 decrease from the year before.

In looking ahead, Cleveland airport officials expect traffic at Hopkins this year of between 5.2 million and 6 million.

Industry observers are expecting it will take three to four years before air travel rebuilds to 2019 levels. That won’t happen until business travel, which has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, begins to pick up.

In the meantime, leisure travel has been a significant chunk of the current air travel market and Florida is among the most popular destinations with several carriers flying hundreds of passengers there every day from Cleveland.

CAK Officials Optimistic About Travel Rebound

January 4, 2021

Officials at Akron-Canton Airport are cautiously optimistic that they will see an increase in travelers this year.

They pointed to passenger numbers during the Christmas holiday travel season that were the most robust since the COVID-19 pandemic began last spring.

Nonetheless, air travel at the airport remains well below what it was before the pandemic.

The latest figures show that through October, 254,135 air travelers had used the airport located in Green between its namesake cities.

That is a 68 percent drop from the same period in 2019. Things were so bad last April that the daily passenger count at Akron-Canton fell to 30 compared with the pre-pandemic 2,000 a day.

The Thanksgiving and Christmas travel period, though gave the airport a boost, said CAK marketing official Lisa Dalpiaz.

“We are certainly seeing an uptick,” she said. “Family and friends were traveling to see one another.”

The AAA Ohio Auto Club recently said a survey it conducted found 59 percent of Ohio residents are considering taking a trip in 2021 that would involve an overnight stay.

Thirty-one percent of respondents said they had already made reservations for such a trip.

But the survey also contained a cautionary note in that 56 percent said they were still “somewhat” or “very uncomfortable” with traveling.

 “These results show that Ohioans want to travel, but are still uncertain about what 2021 will bring,” said Jeremy Marshal, vice president of travel sales for AAA Ohio Auto Club.

“As long as coronavirus concerns remain, we will likely continue to see more spur-of-the-moment travel decisions to outdoor destinations such as parks and outdoor attractions in Ohio and surrounding states.”

Holiday Fares, Direct Destinations to be lower at Hopkins This Year

October 24, 2020

Holiday season air fares from Cleveland Hopkins Airport are expected to be lower but the number of non-stop destinations will be nearly half as many as there were last year.

A travel industry consultant told The Plain Dealer of Cleveland that the average air fare from Hopkins for the Thanksgiving travel season will be $148 roundtrip while the average fare during the Christmas travel season is projected to be $173 roundtrip.

Those figures do not include fees for such things as checked baggage.

Those projections are 45 percent lower than the average fare last year for Thanksgiving travel and 48 percent less than last year for Christmas season travel.

Nationwide, the average fares for Thanksgiving and Christmas travel are expected to be $172 and $222 roundtrip respectively, which are 41 percent and 40 percent lower than 2019 averages.

The consultant told the newspaper that fares are lower this year because airlines are trying to lure back passengers who stopped traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fares are unlikely to change much between now and the holiday travel seasons, the consultant said.

Based on schedules for November already posted by the eight carriers serving Hopkins, there will be 29 nonstop destinations next month compared with 42 in November 2019.

Among the missing destinations are Washington Reagan National, New York Kennedy, Milwaukee, West Palm Beach (Florida), Salt Lake City, Austin (Texas), and Charleston (South Carolina).

United Airlines plans to end service next month between Cleveland and San Francisco, but has announced it will add flights to the Florida cities of Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers and Orlando.

It will also launch service to Cancun in Mexico. JetBlue has also launched new service between Cleveland and Fort Myers to supplement its existing flights to Fort Lauderdale.

Hopkins had 4,018 commercial flights in November 2019 but expects to see 2.099 this November.

Seven of the eight airlines serving Cleveland have one or more suspended destinations that they served in November 2019.

A ninth carrier, an Air Canada partner carrier, has yet to resume service to Toronto.

The most recent figures available from the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics show Hopkins handled 315,149 passengers in August, a decline of 66 percent from August 2019. Nationwide, air travel was down 70 percent in August.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration said it screened more than 1 million travelers on Oct. 18, the first time its daily screenings topped the million mark since last March.

However, those 1 million passengers screened was still 60 percent how many passed through security checkpoints nationwide on the same date a year ago.

Air Travel Reached 1M Last Sunday

October 21, 2020

The Transportation Security Administration said it screened more than 1 million air travelers on Oct. 18, the highest number of passengers screened at TSA checkpoints since March 17.

In a news release the agency said it screened 6.1 million passengers at checkpoints nationwide during the week of Oct. 12-18.

That was the highest weekly volume for TSA since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last March.

The news release noted, though, that passenger volumes remain well below pre-pandemic levels.

The trade group Airlines for America said U.S. domestic travel was down 63 percent compared with the same period of 2019 for the week ending Oct. 4.

The TSA news release also said new credential authentication devices are being installed at various airport checkpoints that enable passengers to insert their ID directly into a card reader thus ending the need for a TSA screening officer to touch the ID.

Many checkpoints now feature computed tomography scanners, allowing TSA officers to manipulate an image on screen to get a better view of a bag’s contents.

This allows inspections of some carry-on bags without the need to open those bags and remove their contents during the screening process.

 

Air Travel at Hopkins Up in July

August 29, 2020

Airline travel was up 53 percent in July at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport over what it was in June but still well below 2019 levels.

During July 320,800 used Hopkins, many of them leisure travelers. A year ago that figure was 971,000.

This past June Hopkins saw 209,000 travelers. Airport director Robert Kennedy now expects Hopkins to handle 4.1 million passengers for 2020.

That’s well below his predictions early this year that the airport would break last year’s mark of 10.04 million.

Of course Kennedy made that prediction before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has severely depressed airline travel around the world.

In an unrelated development, a Cleveland-based airline said this week it will stop flying on Sept. 30 after its agreement with United Airlines expires.

ExpressJet said the move will affect the jobs of 75 mechanics working at Hopkins. The carrier had earlier this year relocated out of Cleveland hundreds of pilots and flight attendants.

Flying under the United Express banner, ExpressJet got its start as a contract carrier for Continental Airlines, which had a hub in Cleveland.

United has decided to shift its United Express brand flights from ExpressJet to CommutAir, a carrier based in North Olmsted. Both carriers fly 50-seat Embraer 145 regional jets.

Delta to Suspend CAK Service Through September

May 11, 2020

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.

Flying Like its 1954

April 14, 2020

Air travel numbers have dropped to the levels of the early 1950s.

On April 8 the Transportation Security Administration said it screened 94,931 people at U.S. airports, the second consecutive day that the number of those screened fell below 100,000.

Air travel statistics show that the last time the U.S. averaged fewer than 100,000 air passengers per day was in 1954.

Airline industry observers say the number of passengers flying may be smaller than TSA numbers indicate because those figures include airline crew members and some employees of airport shops and restaurants located beyond the checkpoints.

The decline in TSA screenings was 96 percent less than it was on April 8, 2019.

TSA said that on March 1 this year it screened nearly 2.3 million passengers at U.S. airport.

The plunge in passengers began in the second week of March and has only shown signs of slowing in recent days, perhaps because it has just about hit its floor.

Back in 1954 the only commercial jetliner was the British-built de Havilland Comet and it had only been flying commercially for two years.

The Boeing 707 was still in development and would not make its first flight until 1957 and enter commercial service on Oct. 26, 1958.

Industry trade group Airlines for America said airline capacity has been slashed by 71 percent although some reports have placed the figure at 90 percent.

Anecdotal reports have surfaced in the news media that some flights have operated with just one passenger aboard.

The trade group said on average only one in every 10 seats on domestic flights is occupied.

Flight cancellations have been widespread in the past four weeks.

U.S. Airlines have reported taking out of service 1,800 planes or about 30 percent of the airline fleet.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, TSA workers are now wearing masks and in some instances face shields.

TSA said 327 of its employees have tested positive for the virus. The union representing flight attendants at American Airlines said 100 of its members have tested positive.

Industry observers expect demand for air travel to grow slowly once the pandemic subsides.

Airline traffic took a major hit following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington and air travel once restored didn’t begin to grow until 2003.

Some believe air travel will grow even slower following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Associated Press reported that Polling firm Public Opinion Strategies found fewer than half the Americans it surveyed about 10 days ago say they will get on a plane within six months of the spread of the virus flattening.

The firm Stifel Nicolaus projects that in a best case scenario air travel demand won’t return to pre-pandemic numbers until the middle of 2021.

Those traveling tend to be health care professionals on their way to pandemic hot spots and a few traveling to be with family.

United Airlines reported it is losing $100 million a day while Delta Air Lines put its losses at $60 million a day.

U.S. carriers are expected to accept federal emergency grants to cover their payrolls through September.

The industry expects carriers to be smaller in the post pandemic era.

How quickly air travel recovers will hinge upon a number of factors including social distancing rules and how quickly those thrown out of work during the pandemic are able to resume their jobs or find new employment.

Hopkins Air Travel Rose in 2016, But CAK Sank

February 13, 2017

It was a year for Cleveland Hopkins International Airport to takeoff, while Akron-Canton Airport continued sinking in the Northeast Ohio air travel market.

Cleveland HopkinsPassenger statistics released last week showed that Hopkins served 8.42 million passengers in 2016, an increase of 4 percent over 2015.

Akron-Canton served 1.4 million travelers, a drop of 9.5 percent from 2015.

The two airports are flying in different directions with Cleveland steadily gaining airlines and new flights while Akron-Canton has been losing flights more often than it has gained them.

That fact will be illustrated this month when Allegiant Air begins serving Hopkins while pulling out of Akron-Canton.

The biggest blow at Akron-Canton has been the loss of flights by Southwest Airlines, which plans to cease flying to CAK this summer.

Southwest now flies three times a day between Akron-Canton and Atlanta, but starting in June two of those flights will move to Cleveland.

The only gain Akron-Canton has enjoyed in the past year is the arrival of Spirit Airlines, which also serves Cleveland.

Air traffic also increased in 2016 at airports serving Pittsburgh, Columbus and Cincinnati.

Traffic rose by 2.2 percent at Pittsburgh International Airport to 8.3 million.

John Glenn Columbus International Airport saw traffic rise by 7.8 percent to 7.3 million.

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport posted a traffic increase of 7.2 percent to 6.8 million.

Hopkins Traffic Rose 6.5% in 2015

March 11, 2016

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.