Posts Tagged ‘airline service in Northeast Ohio’

Allegiant to Add 2 Florida Routes from CAK

May 9, 2022

Allegiant Air will add two Florida destinations from the Akron-Canton Airport this fall.

Starting Oct. 6, Allegiant will fly twice a week between CAK and Orlando Sanford Airport, located 20 miles northeast of Orlando.

Those flights could pick up some of the slack being left by Spirit Airlines’ plans to suspend service between Akron-Canton and Orlando International Airport in June.

Akron-Canton officials have said Orlando is the top destination of passengers from CAK.

Allegiant also plans to launch twice-a-week service between Akron-Canton and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport on Nov. 19.

The new routes will give Allegiant six destinations from Akron-Canton. Others include the Florida cities of Sarasota, St. Petersburg and Punta Gorda. Allegiant also flies from Akron-Canton to Savannah-Hilton Head, Georgia.

Spirit has said it plans to resume serving Akron-Canton in November.

Spirit to Suspend Flights at Akron-Canton Airport

April 28, 2022

Spirit Airlines will cease serving Akron-Canton Airport on June 5, but the discount fare carrier insists the move is temporary.

In announcing the service suspension, an airline spokesman said the move is in response to a pilot shortage and other operation issues that are prompting it to reduce service across its system.

Also affected will be Cleveland Hopkins Airport, which will see some new Spirit flights even as flights on other routes are suspended.

Spirit, which has served Akron-Canton since 2016, flies year around from CAK to Orlando, Florida, and offers seasonal service to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and Tampa and Fort Myers, Florida.

In Cleveland, Spirit plans on June 5 to resume serving Dallas-Fort Worth with daily service while adding a second daily flight to Myrtle Beach.

Spirit will suspend its Cleveland flights to Cancun and New Orleans.

The airline spokesman told The Plain Dealer that the airline wants to avoid a situation such as happened earlier this month when it had to cancel hundreds of flights due to staffing, weather and operational issues.

That left thousands of travelers stranded during a busy spring break travel period.

Other carrier are facing the same issues and have announced flight cuts to avoid having to cancel large numbers of flights due to operating issues.

The Plain Dealer report noted that airlines have been surprised at how quickly air travel has bounced back from the COVID-19 pandemic doldrums.

Lisa Dalpiaz, vice president of marketing and air service development at Akron-Canton, told The Plain Dealer she is cautiously optimistic Spirit will return in November as it said it would.

“The Akron-Canton market has performed well in the past,” she said. “We’ve been told that these routes have worked.”

Spirit is the only airline flying from CAK to Orlando, which Dalpiaz said is the top destination for travelers from the airport.

Merger Could Affect NE Ohio Airport

April 17, 2022

Officials at Cleveland Hopkins Airport are taking a wait and see approach to an effort by JetBlue Aiways to take over Spirit Airlines.

Spirit is also being sought by Frontier Airlines and two companies announced plans two months ago to merge subject to regulatory approval.

JetBlue has made a $3.6 billion unsolicited offer to buy Spirit, which is known for low fares but also cramped seats and numerous fees.

All three carriers fly out of Hopkins but JetBlue has a small presence there, accounting for just 2 percent of the commercial passenger traffic from Hopkins last year.

By contrast Spirit and Frontier are the fourth and sixth largest carriers at Hopkins in terms of traffic.

A combined Spirit and Frontier would eclipse United Airlines, which generates the most traffic from Hopkins.

JetBlue, which began serving Hopkins in 2015, flies from Cleveland to Boston and Fort Lauderdale, but plans to drop flights to the latter on May 1. However, JetBlue expects to reinstate the route in October.

Spirit also has flights from Akron-Canton Airport to Orlando with seasonal service to Tampa and Fort Myers in Floridam and to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Neither Frontier nor JetBlue fly to CAK, although Frontier once did.

From Hopkins, Spirit serves 11 destinations while Frontier flies to 13.

Industry observers noted that JetBlue and Spirit have many differences in practice and philosophy.

Whereas JetBlue offers a higher-quality product that includes more legroom, more entertainment options, complimentary snacks and beverages, and higher fares, Spirit offers basic transportation for low fares but with fees for many services.

Hopkins director Robert Kennedy told The Plain Dealer he expected the airport to feel more of an economic effect from a Frontier-Spirit merger than a JetBlue-Spirit combination.

“It could produce a larger concentration of flights and possibly lead to other destinations for us,” Kennedy said about a Frontier-Spirit merger.

He also said a combined Spirit-Frontier might establish a crew base or maintenance facility at Hopkins.

Hopkins Gaining Some New Summer Service

March 29, 2022

Airlines are revealing their summer expansion plans and the news for Cleveland Hopkins Airport is mixed.

Frontier Airlines will add new non-stop service starting in June from Cleveland to Philadelphia and Dallas-Fort Worth.

But United Airlines doesn’t plan to resume seasonal routes from Cleveland to Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Pensacola, Florida; and Portland, Maine, that operated last summer.

An airline spokesman said a shortage of pilots is preventing the flights from resuming.

Last year those routes operated three times a week and were flown by contract airline partners flying regional jet planes under the United Express brand.

The Plain Dealer reported that in June 2022 United is expected to offer 221,378 seats to and from Cleveland Hopkins or about 84 percent of what it had in 2019 and more than the 148,497 seats it had available in June 2021 and 26,406 seats in June 2020.

United is Hopkins’ largest carrier with 23 percent of its commercial passenger business.

The United spokeswoman said the carrier will continue flying from Cleveland to such leisure destinations as Fort Lauderdale and Orlando in Florida; Cancun, Mexico; and Nassau in the Bahamas, during the summer.

Frontier is the fourth largest carrier at Hopkins and flies non-stop to 14 destinations. None of its new summer flights will operate daily.

It will be the second time Frontier has linked Cleveland with Philadelphia and Dallas.

Breeze Expanding Akron-Canton Service

March 9, 2022

Akron-Canton Airport will be gaining more new service this summer when Breeze Airways launches flights to Nashville and Hartford, Connecticut.

The Nashville flights will begin May 26 and operate on Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays and Mondays all year.

The Hartford flights will start June 3 providing summer service on Fridays and Mondays.

Breeze, which began flying to Akron-Canton in June 2021, currently flies from there to Tampa and West Palm Beach in Florida, and to New Orleans, and Charleston, South Carolina.

None of those flights operate daily. Breeze plans to use 126-seat Airbus 220 aircraft on the Hartford route and Embraer 190 or 195 jets on the Nashville flights that seat 108 or 118 seats.

The Hartford service will be the first from Northeast Ohio to Hartford since early 2020.

Delta Airlines through a Delta Connection branded contract airline flew to Hartford from Cleveland Hopkins Airport until the onset of the COVID-19 devastated air travel.

Most travelers who fly on Breeze are leisure travelers although the Hartford route may see some business travel to New England destinations.

The announcement that Breeze is expanding its Akron-Canton service came a week after Allegiant Air resumed flying to the airport located in Green between its namesake cities.

Akron-Canton officials are hoping it is a sign that the falling airline traffic trend at the airport is being reversed.

Allegiant began serving Akron-Canton in May 2015 but left there in February 2017 in favor of expanding operations at Hopkins.

The departure of Allegiant coincided with the launch of service at Akron-Canton by Spirit Airlines to Florida and South Carolina points.

In September 2021, Allegiant said it would withdraw from Hopkins in January, citing high fees. Shortly after than announcement Allegiant said it would return to Akron-Canton in March 2022.

Currently, Allegiant flies from Akron-Canton to the Florida cities of Punta Gorda, Sarasota and St. Petersburg-Clearwater, and to Savannah, Georgia.

Service to all four is twice a week, but will increase in May to four times a week to Savannah and three times a week to Sarasota and Punta Gorda.

The presence of three low-fare carriers at Akron-Canton harkens back to the days when AirTran had flights from CAK to numerous destinations, including New York, Boston, Washington, Milwaukee, Atlanta and Orlando.

AirTran’s low fares drew travelers from all over Northeast Ohio during a time when the former Continental Airlines had a hub operation at Hopkins. That gave travelers dozens of non-stop flights to points throughout North America and even to Europe, but also meant Hopkins had some of the highest air fares in the country.

Continental eventually merged with United Airlines, which subsequently closed the Cleveland hub although United continues to have a major presence there.

Southwest Airlines eventually acquired AirTran and continued most of its flights, but gradually reduced destinations until leaving Akron-Canton altogether.

In a ceremony to welcome Allegiant back to Akron-Canton, the airport’s CEO, Ren Camacho, said it could be a turning point for passenger growth.

Aside from drawing travelers from throughout Northeast Ohio, Akron-Canton has also seen some passengers drive in from Pennsylvania to board flights there, attracted by lower fares.

Most of the direct destinations served from Akron-Canton are leisure travel locations.

Spirit offers seasonal service to Tampa and Fort Myers in Florida, seasonal service to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and year-around service to Orlando.

American Airlines through its American Eagle brand offers flights to Charlotte, North Carolina; Washington (Reagan National); and Philadelphia.

United Airlines through its United Express brand flies to Chicago (O’Hare). It dropped its daily flight to Washington (Dulles) on March 3.

Breeze Begins Palm Beach Flights at CAK, Allegiant to Return Next Week to 4 Destinations

February 19, 2022

Breeze Airways will begin service today from the Akron-Canton Airport to Palm Beach, Florida.

Airport officials said in a news release that Palm Beach is the top unserved market from Akron-Canton and among the top 10 connecting destinations from the airport.

Flights will operate on Saturdays and may increase in frequency depending on demand.

The flight will depart CAK 5:55 p.m. for a 8:25 p.m. arrival in Palm Beach. Returning flights depart Palm Beach at 10:05 a.m. and arrive at Akron-Canton at 12:40 p.m. Flights will use with 108-seat Embraer 190 regional jets.

Breeze began serving Akron-Canton in June 2021 and flies to Tampa; New Orleans; and Charleston, South Carolina. None of those flights operate daily.

Akron-Canton will be gaining a new, but familiar airline, next week when Allegiant Air resumes service.

Allegiant flew to Akron-Canton between May 2015 and February 2017 when it pulled out in favor of focusing its service at Cleveland Hopkins Airport.

But Allegiant cited high fees at Hopkins when it flew its last flight from there on Jan. 3. A month later it announced it would return to Akron-Canton.

Starting March 2, Allegiant will fly from CAK to Punta Gorda, Florida, one of four destinations that Allegiant plans to serve from Akron-Canton.

The discount fare carrier also plans flight from CAK to Sarasota, Florida, starting March 3; St. Petersburg, Florida, starting March 4; and Savannah, Georgia, starting March 3.

Allegiant will fly Airbus equipment on all four routes, none of which will operate daily.

Akron-Canton also has service to Florida provided by Spirit Airlines to Orlando, Tampa and Fort Myers. Other carriers at the airport located between its namesake cities include American Eagle, flying to Philadelphia, Washington (Reagan National) and Charlotte; and United Express, flying to Chicago (O’Hare) and Washington (Dulles).

Merger Effects on NEO Airports Uncertain

February 12, 2022

The proposed merger of Spirit and Frontier airlines may affect airline service in Northeast Ohio although local airport officials are unsure as to how.

If the merger occurs the combined carrier would become the largest at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport based on 2021 passenger traffic for the two carriers.

In 2021, United Airlines with 1.7 million passengers accounted for 23 percent of the passenger traffic at Hopkins.

Frontier and Spirit combined accounted for more than 2 million or 27 percent of the airport’s traffic.

At present Frontier has about 12 percent of the Hopkins traffic, making it the fifth largest carrier from Cleveland. Spirit is the sixth largest.

Frontier flies to 13 destinations from Cleveland while Spirit has 11 destinations. Many of those overlap, particularly the leisure travel markets in Florida, Mexico (Cancun) and Las Vegas.

Hopkins airport director Robert Kennedy told The Plain Dealer that the merger, which would create the fifth largest airline in the United States, could result in more service from Cleveland.

“I don’t see this as a negative. I think it actually could work well for us in terms of new destinations,” he said.

A similar sentiment was expressed by Akron-Canton Airport head Ren Camacho.

Saying there are many unknowns about the merger, Camacho told WKSU-FM, “We remain cautiously optimistic that this could bode well for the Akron-Canton Airport as Spirit Airlines has been a longtime partner with us, and we will continue to work with our partners at Spirit Airlines to maintain service at CAK as this potential merger continues to unfold.”

Frontier flew from Akron-Canton for six years but left there in 2012 in favor of serving Hopkins.

Spirit has a handful of flights from CAK, including year-around service to Orlando, Florida, and seasonal service to the Florida cities of Tampa and Fort Myers, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

The merger of Spirit and Frontier is subject to U.S. government review. The carriers have not revealed the name or headquarters of the proposed merged carrier. They hope to complete their merger in late 2022.

The two airlines are similar in that they offer low base fares but impose fees for such things as checked luggage and advance seat assignments.

Robert Mann, president of R.W. Mann & Company, a consulting firm based in New York, told The Plain Dealer both Spirit and Frontier have developed reputations for reliability and customer service.

The value of the merger has been placed at $6.6 billion. Collectively, the two carriers now fly to 145 destinations in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Much of the growth of Spirit and Frontier at Hopkins came after United Airlines closed a hub there in 2014 and dropped dozens of flights and destinations.

Also expanding in Cleveland in the wake of the United hub closure was discount fare carrier Allegiant Air.

However, Allegiant ended service to Cleveland in January and plans to resume serving Akron-Canton Airport in March.

That will give CAK three budget carriers. Aside from Spirit, Akron-Canton also is served by startup carrier Breeze Airways.

Even before the Spirit-Frontier merger had been announced, Spirit had said it would expand its presence at Hopkins by doubling its counter and gate space.

At the time that announcement was made in late 2021, Spirit said it would say later why it was expanding its physical presence at the airport, which suggested it planned to expand its flights and destinations from Cleveland.

From Cleveland, Frontier now flies to Atlanta; Charleston, South Carolina; Cancun, Mexico; Denver; Las Vegas; Orlando; Miami; Phoenix; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; Fort Myers; Sarasota; and Tampa.

Spirit flies from Cleveland to Atlanta, Cancun, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando, Miami, New Orleans, Myrtle Beach, Fort Myers and Tampa.

Breeze to Use Larger Jet on CAK-Tampa Route

January 24, 2022

Breeze Airways plans to introduce larger aircraft on its route from Akron-Canton Airport to Tampa on May 4.

The low-fare carrier said it will begin flying Airbus 220-300 aircraft on the route, one of 17 Breeze routes expected to get the planes.

Breeze, which began flying to Akron-Canton last June, is now using Embraer 190 jets on its routes from CAK to Tampa, New Orleans, and Charleston, South Carolina.

The Airbus 220 has five abreast seating and seats 130 including 12 in a first class section. Designed by Bombardier Aviation, the A220 has been flying since 2013. Breeze said it is acquiring 15 A220-300 jets.

First class service will be available on Breeze flights to Tampa from Akron-Canton with an introductory fare of $99 one way.

A first class ticket entitles passengers to two checked bags, a carry-on bag and a personal item.

The A220 aircraft will be used by Breeze on longer flights from Tampa to eight other airports in addition to Akron-Canton.

Hopkins Renews Push for Service to Europe

January 24, 2022

Public money and financial support from the business community are being counted on by officials at Cleveland Hopkins Airport to lure new airlines service in the coming year and beyond.

At the top of the list is non-stop service to Europe.

Hopkins has been without trans-Atlantic air service since 2018 when short-lived flights to Iceland ended.

John Hogan, deputy chief of marketing and air service development at Hopkins, told The Plain Dealer that it will take financial incentives to land international air service.

Hogan acknowledged that Cleveland to Europe largely is viewed by the airline industry as an unproven route, which makes it all the more important to have a financial incentive package in place.

Federal rules prohibit airports and the cities they serve from making direct payment to airlines to entice them to provide new service, but they can waive certain fees and help underwrite marketing costs to introduce a new service.

Ohio airports have long lamented the lack of state financial support such as that provided by neighboring Pennsylvania and Indiana that has been used to bring in international service to Pittsburgh and Indianapolis respectively.

However, that changed in 2020 when JobsOhio, Ohio’s economic development agency, created a program that the state’s airports can use to attract new air service.

Akron-Canton Airport used the program to get Breeze Airways, a low-fare carrier, to begin service there last summer to three destinations. Columbus used the program to bring in Breeze to John Glenn Columbus Airport.

More recently JobOhio helped Cleveland to attract Alaska Airlines, which will begin flying in June between Hopkins and Seattle.

Now, Hopkins officials are hoping that with the help of JobsOhio, an incentive package will draw a carrier willing to flying from Cleveland to Europe.

Airport Director Robert Kennedy is hoping to get the service started in 2023. He said decisions by airlines as to where they will fly internationally next year will be made this year.

One challenge to landing an international route is continued turmoil in the business travel market.

Passengers flying on business would be expected to be a significant audience for the service and they tend to buy the most expensive tickets for international flights.

Baiju Shah, president and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, told The Plain Dealer the business community understands the importance of air service but the COVID-19 pandemic has brought changes in business travel patterns.

“The business community is still evaluating their own travel needs going forward,” he said. “I don’t have a strong perspective on how important a trans-Atlantic flight would be to the business community.”

Shah wants to see an economic impact analysis of any possible route before committing financial support to it.

“It’s hard for us to go to the business community without an economic case,” he said. “There’s got to be a broader regional benefit and we have to understand what that means. It has to be tangible. And with that information, we can make a decision on whether it’s a good choice for our local resources.”

The history of international air service from Cleveland has been a turbulent one.

When Continental Airlines had a hub in Cleveland it had routes to London and Paris. The last of those flights, to London’s Heathrow Airport, ended in 2009, a victim of the Great Recession.

Continental eventually merged in 2010 with United, which shut down the Cleveland hub in 2014 and with it ended numerous destinations that could feed connecting traffic to an international flight.

In May 2018, two carriers, both based in Iceland, Wow Air and Icelandair, began flying between Cleveland and Reykjavik. Wow ceased flying to Cleveland in late October, less than six months after launching the service.

At the same time Icelandair said it was suspending its Cleveland flights for the winter and would resume the following summer. But it never did.

In 2019 Air Lingus eyed Cleveland for a route from Dublin. That proposal fell through due to lack of support from the business community.

Hopkins officials believe there are enough travelers in Northeast Ohio to support service to Europe. The sticking point is getting various business and economic development groups to provide financial support to office a financial incentive package.

Hogan would like to see something such as what St. Louis officials assembled to get Lufthansa to fly to Frankfort, Germany, starting in June.

That was a $5 million package with half the funding coming from a county port authority and half from the St. Louis business community.

Hogan believes a similar package could enable Cleveland to land nonstop service to Europe.

Airport officials describe such packages as risk sharing. The community is providing an airline with a minimum revenue guarantee for a couple of years to enable the route to develop.

Bill Koehler, CEO of Team NEO, a regional economic development organization, told The Plain Dealer the community needs to decide what air service markets, international and domestic, are its top priorities and to create a strategy to seek those out.

In previous years, the Cleveland business community has fractured over which European destination was the most important.

Hogan said in 2019 Cleveland had an average of 51 passengers per day flying to London, which topped the number of passengers flying there from such cities as Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and Cincinnati, all of which had nonstop flights to Europe.

As Hogan sees it, the key to successful European service is a flight that connects with flights to various other destinations beyond that city or even that country.

Aside from Europe, Hopkins officials have a long list of places in North America to which they would like to see non-stop service re-established.

They recently were able to check Seattle off that list when Alaska Airlines accepted an incentive package to provide a daily flight starting June 16.

Alaska also flies from Seattle to Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis.

Hogan said other cities on the Hopkins “wish list” include San Diego, Austin, San Antonio, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Salt Lake City and Portland, Oregon.

All of those cities have been linked by non-stop flights from Cleveland in past years with some of that service lost during the pandemic.

Officials have declined to say how much the incentive package to entice Alaska was, but Terry Slaybaugh, vice president of infrastructure and sites for JobsOhio, said such packages are typically between $600,000 and $1.5 million.

The last daily non-stop service from Cleveland to Seattle ended in 2014 and was provided by United Airlines. Frontier Airlines flew the route with less-than-daily summer service that ended in 2019.

That same year an average of 160 passengers per day flew from Cleveland to Seattle.

Brett Catlin, vice president of network and alliances at Alaska, said the carrier has been interested in serving Cleveland for nearly a decade but the timing was never right to launch the route.

Alaska is the fifth largest airline in the U.S. and has never served Cleveland.

Airport officials said the financial package used to bring Alaska to Cleveland does not involve any funding from the airport’s budget.

Seattle is Alaska’s gateway to Asia, Alaska, Hawaii and the West Coast. Alaska began flying to Columbus in 2019 and to Cincinnati in 2021. Starting in June it plans to expand at both of those airports to double daily service.

Service to Cleveland will initially arrive from Seattle at 5:15 p.m. and depart for Seattle at 6:25 p.m.

Catlin said if the service is well received it might expand to morning and evening departures and arrivals.

The carrier plans to use a 178-seat Boeing 737 on the Cleveland-Seattle route offering first class, premium and economy classes. It will offer in-flight Wi-Fi, seat-back entertainment and charging stations.

Cleveland Hopkins Handled 7.3M in 2021

January 24, 2022

Although air traffic at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in 2021 was below pre-pandemic levels, it also showed how air travel is rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hopkins handled 7.3 million travelers last year, which was 72 percent of the 2019 level of 10.04 million.

Airport officials said that nationwide air travel in 2021 was 68 percent of what it was in 2019, the last full year before the onset of the pandemic.

In 2020, Hopkins handled 4.1 million. Figures provided by airport officials show that between 2010 and 2019 commercial air traffic at Hopkins fell to a low of 7.61 million in 2014 and hit the high water mark in 2019.

Traffic fell in 2014 in part due to United Airlines closing a hub in Cleveland. Since then low fare carriers such as Allegiant Air, Frontier Airlines, and Spirit Airlines have sought to pick up some of the slack.

Allegiant has since pulled out of Hopkins and plans to resume service in March at Akron-Canton Airport.

United remains the largest carrier at Hopkins and introduced new flights in the past year to such destinations as Las Vegas, Phoenix, Nassaua in the Bahamas, and Portland, Maine.

Some of those flights are seasonal and some are operated by a contract carrier flying regional jets under the United Express Brand.

Also during the past year United boosted service to various Florida points from Cleveland.

Airport officials are projecting that commercial traffic at Hopkins will reach range of 8.5 million to 9 million this year and rebound to 10 million in 2023.