Posts Tagged ‘airline service in Northeast Ohio’

New Breeze Blows at Akron-Canton Airport

July 6, 2021

Two weeks in it is too soon to say how the newest carrier at Akron-Canton Airport, Breeze Airways, is doing.

The website Simple flying said there are no publicly available statistics showing how particular Breeze routes are performing but that information should be available in a few months.

Breeze began flying between Akron-Canton and Tampa on June 26 and also plans to fly from CAK later this month to New Orleans and Charleston, South Carolina.

Thus far Breeze has launched 39 routes with all of them having an average distance of 604 miles.

None of the new carrier’s routes operate daily. The Tampa route from Akron-Canton operates only on Saturdays.

Officials at Breeze, which began operations in May, have said that flights would only operate on the strongest travel days in order to avoid having to discount fares too much to grow demand.

The first Breeze flight to land at Akron-Canton had 75 passengers aboard a 118-seat Embraer 195 regional jet. An equal number boarded the return flight.

Simple Flying said that Breeze schedule through August show all flights concentrated on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Breeze jets will not be on the ground at Akron-Canton for long, only long enough to disembark passengers and board departing ones.

The maiden Breeze flight to Akron-Canton received the traditional water canon salute from fire fighters as well as a champagne christening from invited local officials.

As Breeze was getting settled at Akron-Canton, though, the airport lost more service when American Eagle discontinued its flights to Philadelphia.

The airport has struggled to regain service lost during the COVID-19 pandemic, which sent air passenger traffic plummeting.

Akron-Canton now has daily flights to Charlotte, Washington (Dulles and Reagan National) airports and Chicago (O’Hare).

Aside from Breeze, less than daily flights are operated by Spirit Airlines from CAK to Orlando and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

New Airline Launches at CAK on Saturday

June 25, 2021

A new airline will launch service Saturday at Akron-Canton Airport.

Breeze Airways will commence Saturday-only service between Tampa and Akron-Canton.

The flights will operate with Embraer 195 regional jet equipment, arriving at CAK at 5:30 p.m. and departing at 6 p.m.

Tampa will be one of three cities that Breeze plans to serve from Akron-Canton.

Starting July 7, Breeze will begin service on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday to Charleston, South Carolina; and on July 15 it will inaugurate service to New Orleans on Thursday and Sunday.

The Charleston and New Orleans flights will use Embraer 190 regional jets. Breeze plans to add additional flights from Akron-Canton to New Orleans on Wednesdays during November and December.

Charleston flights are scheduled to arrive at CAK at 12:10 p.m. and depart at 12:40 p.m. New Orleans flights are scheduled to arrive at 10:55 a.m. and depart at 11:25 a.m.

Breeze is a startup carrier that began in late May and was founded by David Neeleman, who is a founder or co-founder of five airlines, including JetBlue.

Akron-Canton will be one of 16 airports being served by Breeze and the sixth to join the network.

Neeleman said 95 percent of Breeze routes currently lack non-stop airline service.

Based in Salt Lake City, Breeze is focusing on providing service from underserved airport to Charleston, New Orleans, Tampa, and Norfolk, Virginia.

Breeze is counting heavily on vacation travel although Neeleman said business travelers could become part of its market in the future.

“Our competition is the couch,” Neeleman said. There are opportunities for people to see new places.”

Neeleman believes high fares and lack of service have discouraged some people from traveling. Breeze hopes to counter that with low fares, destinations to which people want to travel, and kindness.

Breeze also will launch service from Columbus in July to Hartford, Connecticut; Norfolk; Charleston, New Orleans and Tampa.

Akron-Canton officials hope Breeze will enable the airport to bounce back from revenue and passenger losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lisa Dalpiaz, the airport vice president of marketing, said that in 2020 the airport lost $3 million.

Before the pandemic the airport was handling 2,300 passengers a day but that fell to a low of 60 passengers a day. It has since risen to 1,652 passengers per day.

Akron-Canton also been hindered by the loss of service by Southwest Airlines, Frontier Airlines and Allegiant Air. All three have elected to focus their Northeast Ohio flights at nearby Cleveland Hopkins Airport.

Still serving Akron-Canton are Spirit Airlines with less than daily year-around flights to Orlando and seasonal flights to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and Tampa and Fort Myers, Florida.

American Eagle flies to Charlotte, Philadelphia, and Washington (Reagan National) while United Express flies to Chicago (O’Hare) and Washington (Dulles). Flights to Houston and New York (LaGuardia) that were dropped during the pandemic have yet to return.

Also missing from Akron-Canton is Delta Air Lines, which suspended its flights to Atlanta in May 2020.

Dalpiaz said Delta dropped its flights to Akron-Canton because of the loss of business travel during the pandemic.

“It’s something that we’re not giving up hope on and we know that corporate travel will be back and so we’re keeping in contact with Delta,” she said.

Akron-Canton officials said they are working with area legislators and JobsOhio to provide local and state dollars to attract airline service.

Thus far local governments and organizations have pledged a collective $250,000 to be used to lure new or restored airline service at Akron-Canton. The state has offered additional support.

Airport officials said the coming of Breeze was a result of those efforts.

In an unrelated development, the Federal Aviation Administration recently awarded Ohio airports more than $2.2 million in economic relief from the COVID-19 pandemic through the Airport Coronavirus Relief Program.

The recipients were Cleveland-Hopkins International, $1.48 million; Columbus Regional Airport Authority, $893,548; James M Cox Dayton International, $181,143; Akron-Canton Regional, $87,307; Rickenbacker International, $32,951; and Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, $26,603.

Spirit Airlines also has announced that it will launch service between Cleveland and Miami on Nov. 17.

The carrier has not yet announced flight times for that service. Spirit also flies from Cleveland to the nearby Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, where it is the largest carrier.

The Cleveland-Miami route also is served by American and Frontier airlines.

Spirit said it will link Miami with 30 destinations, including 12 airports in the Caribbean and South America.

Breeze To Begin Flying to Akron-Canton

May 22, 2021

Akron-Canton Airport will be getting a new airline next month.

It is one of 16 airports that start-up Breeze Airways will serve once it begins phasing in operations on May 27.

From Akron-Canton, Breeze will fly to Tampa starting June 26 with additional flights starting on July 8 to Charleston, South Carolina; and on July 15 to New Orleans.

The carrier will fly Embraer 190 regional jets configured for 108 or 118 seats. By late July it expects to be flying 39 nonstop routes concentrated largely in the Southeast.

Breeze also plans to serve Columbus with flights to Tampa, Charleston, New Orleans, and Norfolk, Virginia. Other cities in nearby states to be served by Breeze include Pittsburgh and Louisville, Kentucky.

At present none of destinations Breeze plans to serve from Akron-Canton have direct service. Spirit Airlines flies between Tampa and Akron-Canton during the winter and spring.

Tickets start at $39 each way on all routes but these are introductory fares and the cheapest seats will be limited.

Flights will not operate daily on any route with the highest service frequency of any route will be four times a week.

Breeze was founded by David Neeleman, who was a founder of JetBlue but later ousted as its CEO.

He has more recently run airlines in South American before creating Breeze, which he said will seek to develop nonstop air travel markets between smaller cities. The carrier’s mantra is “We’ll get you there twice as fast for half the price.”

Neeleman said Breeze will have significantly lower costs than other airlines including those that offer lower fares. In part that is because Breeze will begin service with smaller aircraft.

It also was able to lease planes for less, a byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic driving down aircraft lease prices.

Breeze expects 95 percent of its routes to have no nonstop competition.

“We’re going to generate 10 times more people than we’ll ever take from anyone else,’” Neeleman said. “If you’re sitting in Columbus, Ohio, and you want to go to Charleston, South Carolina, and can do it for 69 bucks then you’re just going to go. You’re going to go more often.”

By fall, Breeze expects to begin operating Airbus 220 aircraft between larger cities.

As do other low fare carriers, Breeze will charge fees for numerous services. Checked luggage will cost $20 per bag. Advance seat assignments will start at $10 although the carrier said families will not be charged to set together. Passengers will be able to bring aboard the aircraft one personal item at no cost.

The Embraer aircraft Breeze will fly will not have business class or Wi-Fi. Nor will there be any middle seats.

Passengers will be able to stream 150 free TV shows – but not live TV – on their personal devices from an inflight entertainment system.

Food service will include Kind bars and Utz snacks. Some flight attendants will be Utah Valley University students working under a partnership with the airline.

Airlines Face Higher Costs at Hopkins

February 26, 2021

The airlines serving Cleveland Hopkins Airport are about to face a double squeeze.

Airport authorities said this week that the airlines will pay higher fees so the airport can make up for lost revenue from parking, food service, retail operations and other non-aeronautical functions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The airport also is expecting the airlines to underwrite much of the cost of a new terminal being planning although that project is still years away from launching.

Hopkins already has some of the highest airline fees in the country, in part because of its high debt levels.

Speaking to the Cleveland City Council’s Finance Committee, airport director Robert Kennedy acknowledged that the higher airline fees come at a bad time.

Commercial air traffic at Hopkins hit 10 million in 2019 but plunged to 4.1 million last year as the pandemic decimated the air travel market.

Hopkins expects to handle 5.2 million passengers in 2021, a figure that is 48 percent of the 2019 total.

Kennedy said the airport’s 2021 budget of $151.5 million must be balanced by increasing airline fees because the airport is not allowed to dip into city tax dollars.

Whereas airline fees funded 46 percent of the airport’s costs in 2019, this year that is expected to increase by $21 million and to account for 66 percent of the airport’s revenue.

Last year the airlines paid an average cost per passenger of $32, a figure expected to go even higher in 2021.

By contrast per passenger costs at airports in Columbus, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are expected to range from $10 to $15.

“We are damaging our competitiveness,” Kennedy said. “This is what drives airlines elsewhere.”

At $645 million Hopkins has a higher debt load than Columbus ($172 million) and Pittsburgh ($43 million).

Cleveland’s debt stems largely from building a new runway two decades ago.

Debt service this year at Hopkins is expected to be more than $65 million or 43 percent of the airport’s budget.

As for the new terminal, airport officials are still working on a plan but envision it being largely a modification of the existing terminal with construction occurring in stages.

The more than $1 billion new terminal is expected to have wider concourses; an expanded ticketing area; a relocated rental car facility; centralized Transportation Security Administration screening; a new, centrally-located Customs facility; and redesigned entry roads.

Airline fees are expected to pay the bulk of the cost and Kennedy acknowledged negotiations with the carriers over fees will be tough.

“The financing of this is going to be a difficult lift in a post-COVID environment,” Kennedy said.

Airport officials have not released a timeline for when construction will begin and how long it will last but the start of work is several years away.

In the past, most airline passengers at Hopkins were passing through, making flight connections when the airport was a hub for Continental Airlines and, later, United Airlines.

Since United closed the Cleveland hub in June 2014 travel patterns at Hopkins have transformed into the majority of travelers beginning or ending their trips there.

That resulted pre-pandemic in parking shortages and overcrowding in some areas of the airport.

Stark OKs Aid to Akron-Canton Airport Airline Fund

January 16, 2021

Stark County commissioners have approved a contribution of $50,000 to the fund to start or restore non-stop airline service to Akron-Canton Airport.

The money will be overseen by the Stark Development Board and comes on top of at least $200,000 committed to the Commercial Air Service Restoration Program by other local governments in Summit and Stark counties since October.

Akron-Canton Airport President and CEO Ren Camacho that thus far no airline has agree to resume or begin new service to the airport.

He expects that won’t happen until the air travel market recovers further from a steep decline it suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic that led to massive flight cancellations across the country.

“We’re talking to all of the airlines at this point,” Camacho said. “Any airline that provides an opportunity to any markets lost to COVID, that’s who we’re talking to this point. We’ve had some good conversations with some of the airlines but no commitments yet from their end.”

He said any new or restored service will depend on the route, the frequency of service to be operated and the size of the aircraft to be used on the route.

Once the pandemic has been tamed Comacho expects airline travel to take off due to pent up demand.

The air service would act as a backstop for any initial losses or startup costs. An airline would receive up to a negotiated amount of what it lost serving the route.

Aside from local governments, the fund is receiving funding from JobsOhio, the state’s economic development entity, which is providing a 4-to-1 match for any locally raised funds.

If an airline makes a profit on a new or restored route, the fund will not pay out anything to the carrier.

In particular, airport officials want to entice Delta Air Lines to resume service to Atlanta.

However, Akron-Canton also lost service to New York (LaGuardia), Washington (Reagan National) and Houston (Bush Intercontinental) during the pandemic.

Camacho said airline traffic at Akron-Canton is about 30 percent of what it was a year ago.

Other government entities that have contributed money to the airline restoration fund include the Summit County Council ($50,000), Green ($50,000), Akron ($30,000), Stark County Port Authority ($25,000), an individual who wishes to remain anonymous ($20,000), Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce ($10,000), Jackson Township ($10,000), and VisitCanton and Akron Summit Convention and Visitors Bureau ($5,000).

Camacho said neither he nor his staff can negotiate with airlines on an agreement. Those talks must be handled by a committee that has yet to be formed.

Members might includes representatives of the Stark Development Board, Canton Regional Chamber of  Commerce or local government officials.

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.”

NE Ohio Gets New Washington Air Service

December 21, 2020

Northeast Ohio is getting more airline service to Washington.

American Airlines plans to reinstate service from Cleveland and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport next month.

In the meantime United Airlines launched last week new service to Washington Dulles International Airport from the Akron-Canton Airport.

In both instances, the flights are operated by partner airlines flying regional jets under the American Eagle and United Express brands respectively.

Cleveland has had only sporadic service to Reagan National since March due to COVID-19 pandemic related flight reductions.

At the time the pandemic began American Eagle was flying three roundtrips a day between the two airports and planning a fourth.

The United Express service between Akron-Canton and Dulles had been scheduled to launch last May but was delayed due to the pandemic.

The service was intended to replace flights to and from Newark Liberty International Airport. The Dulles and Newark airports are both hub airports for United.

The carrier is operating a single daily roundtrip that leaves CAK in mid morning and returns in early evening.

American Eagle plans one roundtrip between Cleveland and Reagan National leaving in early morning and returning late at night. The service begins Jan. 5.

CAK Dedicates New Boarding Gate Area

November 21, 2020

Akron-Canton Airport officials conducted a ribbon cutting ceremony this week to mark the completion of a $37 million project to renovate the boarding gates area.

The renovated gate area is the centerpiece of a $115 million airport improvement program that began in 2015.

All of the airport’s gates now feature jet bridges between the terminal and aircraft.

Until this year some passengers had to walk across the tarmac to board or disembark at gates that were built in 1962 for turboprop aircraft.

Airport CEO Ren Camacho acknowledged that the project might seem unnecessarily given how much commercial passenger traffic at the airport has fallen in recent years in general and during the COVID-19 pandemic in particular.

But Camacho said the project anticipates growth opportunities that he is optimistic eventually will come.

“This project positions the airport for many years of growth and prosperity while maintaining our convenient and relaxing experience for our travelers,” he said.

Akron-Canton has seen its passenger volume fall from 1.8 million in 2012 to 834,365 last year.

Some of that decline has been attributed to airlines shifting flights from Akron-Canton to Cleveland Hopkins Airport.

Southwest Airlines left Akron-Canton in 2017 while Allegiant and Frontier left around the same time.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly hard on the airport with traffic falling from 39,480 in March to 3,288 in April.

Volume has since rebounded to 16,179 in September, the latest month for which figures are available.

As a reflection of the falling air traffic, Akron-Canton now has nine boarding gates whereas it once had 11.

However, Camacho said additional gates can be added if traffic were to significantly increase.

The new gate area is a two-story structure added to the south end of the terminal.

Among the amenities that have been added are increased seating capacity, charging stations, a business lounge, local artwork, kids’ play area, a room for children with sensory issues, a room for nursing mothers, a pet-relief area and improved WiFi connections.

A planned sit-down restaurant, though, remains in limbo due to the pandemic. Camacho said the restaurant may open by next summer.

In the meantime, Great Lakes Brewing, CAK Café, Royal Docks and Buckhead Grill have locations in the airport that are open and serving.

This past week saw Spirit Airlines resumes its seasonal service from Akron-Canton to Tampa and Fort Myers in Florida to supplement its existing flights to Orlando.

In mid December United Express plans to launch a daily roundtrip between Akron-Canton and Washington Dulles Airport.

That service had been set to launch last spring and replace flights to Newark but instead United dropped the Newark flights and delayed the inauguration of the Dulles flights.

United Express has yet to resume its flights to Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport and American Eagle has yet to revive service to New York (LaGuardia) and Washington (Reagan National)

But top of mind for airport officials is the continued suspension of Delta Air Line service to Atlanta.

Lisa Dalpiaz, the airport’s director of marketing and air service development, said Delta has told airport officials it wants to return to Akron-Canton but has not said when that might happen.

She said it likely will not occur until corporate business travel picks up. Delta suspended its flights to Akron-Canton last May.

“They [haven’t] pulled out and they haven’t discontinued service permanently,” Dalpiaz said.

Airport officials have proposed using a $1 million incentive fund created by Jobs Ohio and several local government units in an effort to lure Delta back to Akron-Canton.

In the meantime, Delta has removed its equipment from the airport, leading some to worry that the suspension might last a long time.

The carrier has been non-committal to resuming service to Akron-Canton, saying repeatedly it is monitoring air travel demand and rebuilding its network as demand rises.

CAK Hopes to Lure Delta Back With $1M Incentive Fund

October 24, 2020

Akron-Canton Airport is banking on a $1 million incentive fund to lure Delta Air Lines into reinstating flights to Atlanta.

The fund was started with a grant of $80,000 from JobsOhio. The rest of the money is being provided by local organizations, businesses and units of government.

Federal law prohibits airports from directly subsidizing air service, but they can provide financial support for such things as marketing and waive certain fees normally charged to airlines in return for providing service.

In this case, Akron-Canton would guarantee revenue for Delta should the route not generate a profit on its own, said Lisa Dalpiaz, the airport’s director of marketing and air service development.

Delta suspended its service between Akron-Canton and Atlanta in May and recently indicated that the suspension will remain indefinitely.

Airport officials say getting back service to Atlanta is important because it is the world’s busiest airport and thus offers numerous connections.

The efforts to woo Delta into resuming service come at a time when Akron-Canton has suffered massive losses of passengers due to the CVOID-19 pandemic.

The airport located in Green has also seen its number of flights and non-stop destinations drop significantly.

The latest federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics figures show Akron-Canton handled 16,002 passengers in August, a 76 percent drop from what it handled in August 2019.

“Smaller regional airports are having a more difficult time,” said Ren Camacho, president and CEO of Akron-Canton,

“The airlines are getting smaller, and when they get smaller they tend to focus on their hub activities, those routes that will be as profitable as possible for them.”

In recent months Akron-Canton Airport has averaged seven flights per day this month to Charlotte, Philadelphia and Chicago O’Hare airports.

Spirit Airlines provides twice weekly service to Orlando, although that service was suspended for a few weeks last month.

Airport officials expect United Airlines through its United Express partner to begin service in December to Washington Dulles International Airport.

They also expect Spirit to resume its seasonal service to Fort Myers and Tampa, and to increase the number of weekly Orlando flights.

But no dates have been announced for resumption of service to Washington Reagan National, New York LaGuardia or Houston.

United had announced earlier this year that its service to Dulles would replace the existing service to Newark. Both Dulles and Newark are major hubs for United.

Camacho said service to Atlanta is the route that many in the Akron-Canton region want back the most based on recent surveys of travelers who use the airport.

He said a committee with representatives from JobsOhio and the community are considering approaching Delta later this year to try to persuade it to resume the Atlanta service in spring 2021.

“We understand they have a business decision to make,” Camacho said. “We have an opportunity to try to mitigate some of that risk. We want to see them back.”

A Delta spokesman declined to say whether a financial incentive might lure the carrier into returning service to Akron-Canton.

“At this time, we do not have a date to resume service to Akron-Canton. We are continuously monitoring demand trends and are rebuilding our network as demand resumes,” he said.

At the time that Delta suspended service to Akron-Canton last spring it said the market would be adequately served by flights to Hopkins Airport.

Akron-Canton officials protested that, saying airlines that accepts emergency aid under the CARES Act were banned from dropping service to individual markets.

However, the U.S. Department of Transportation sided with Delta in its contention that Akron-Canton is part of the larger Cleveland air service market.

Camacho still disagrees with that, saying,”our economy, the greater Akron- Canton economy, is separate from Cleveland’s.”

During November, Akron-Canton expects to see 46 flights a week compared with the 152 it hosted in November 2019.

Capacity for the month is projected to be 3,016 seats per week compared with 9.987 in November 2019.

Delta CAK Suspension Remains Indefinite

October 21, 2020

Akron-Canton is among 16 airports where Delta Air Lines said that service will remain suspended for an indefinite period of time.

Delta had flown between Akron-Canton and Atlanta mid May when it suspended the service due to reduced travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The carrier said it has no set plans to return to Akron-Canton. Other cities on the indefinite suspension list include Erie, Pennsylvania, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Flint, Michigan.

“We are continuously monitoring demand trends and are rebuilding our network as demand resumes,”said Delta spokesperson Drake Castañeda.

Flights are typically set a month ahead of time, which means that in theory Delta could return to any of the 16 suspended airports no earlier than December.

But industry observers believe the indefinite nature of the suspensions reflect uncertainty in the air travel market.

Airlines are expected in November to have 40 percent fewer flights than they did that month a year ago.

Delta in particular expects to fly about 40 percent to 45 percent of the flights it operated in the fourth quarter of 2019, which is three points more than the three months that ended in September.

Akron-Canton still has service to Philadelphia and Charlotte by American Eagle, and to Chicago O’Hare Airport by United Express.

Spirit Airlines operates less-than-daily service to Orlando although it plans to resume daily service on the Orlando route later this year.

Still suspended are flights from Akron-Canton to New York LaGuardia, Washington Dulles, Washington Reagan National, and Houston Bush Intercontinental airports.

American Eagle service to Chicago O’Hare also remains suspended.