Posts Tagged ‘airline service’

Trump Budget Would End Essential Air Service

March 20, 2017

It doesn’t get as much attention as Amtrak funding, but the federal government also underwrites airline service to rural regions of the United States.

No cites in Ohio receive funding for essential air service, but the program helps provide service in some neighboring states, including Pennsylvania.

The Trump administration budget proposal for fiscal year 2018 would end all federal funding for essential air service.

The budget proposal said ending the program would save about $175 million a year.

News reports indicate that The Essential Air Service program subsidizes airline flights to 111 communities that would otherwise have no scheduled service and which are at least 210 miles from the nearest hub airport.

About 60 communities in Alaska also receive subsidized air service.

Funding for air service to smaller communities has been around since the post-World War II era, but the current program was put into place in 1978 to preserve service at communities that were likely to lose air service in the wake of airline deregulation.

The program has drawn criticism because not all flights are full and the cost per passenger is high.

As is likely to be the case with the Trump administration plan to cut funding for Amtrak long-distance trains, opposition to the air service cuts are likely to arise in Congress, particularly the Senate, from lawmakers from rural states who have resisted past efforts to kill the air service program.

 

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.

Ultimate Air Shuttle Begins Burke-NYC Service

January 20, 2017

Ultimate Air Shuttle began service this week between Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport and the New York City Area.

Ultimate air shuttleThe flights depart Burke at 10:45 a.m. and arrive at 9:42 a.m. The service is via an airport in Morristown, New Jersey.

The carrier said it will also plans to begin service between Burke and Atlanta although it has not yet announced a start-up date.

Flights to Atlanta will involve an intermediate stop in Cincinnati, and land at Dekalb-Peachtree Airport, located 10 miles south of downtown Atlanta.

Rick Pawlak, managing director of the Ultimate, said the service is pending approval of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Ultimate began service between Burke and Cincinnati Lunken Airport in October 2015. It was the first scheduled air service from Burke in nearly 10 years.

Flights are operated with Ultimate’s fleet of 30-seat Dornier 328 jets and a 30-seat Embraer 135 jet.

Spirit Begins Service Today at Akron-Canton

November 10, 2016

Competition between airlines flying to the same destinations out of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and Akron-Canton Airport is nothing new.

Akron-Canton AirportBut today (Nov. 10), will mark the first time that the same low-fare carrier has flown from both airport to the same destinations in Florida.

Spirit Airlines will begin service from Akron-Canton to Fort Lauderdale on Thursday with service to Orlando, Tampa and Fort Myers slated to begin later in the week.

The carrier will also fly from Akron-Canton to Las Vegas and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Spirit serves all of those destinations from Cleveland and the carrier insists that the market is large enough for both airports.

“We see them as two separate markets that complement each other,” said Paul Berry, Spirit’s director of communications. “Our data shows that both airports pull from different areas.

“We’re pleased with the way Cleveland is performing,” said Berry. “If Cleveland continues to perform the way it is, we’re going to look for more opportunity there.”

The arrival of Spirit at Akron-Canton will come just ahead of Allegiant Air leaving the airport and transferring all of its flights from CAK to Hopkins.

Allegiant will not only serve from Cleveland the same destinations it flies to from Akron-Canton, but will also add service to cities not now linked from CAK.

When Allegiant begins operations in Cleveland next Feb. 10, it will fly to 10 destinations, including New Orleans; Austin, Texas; and Savannah, Georgia.

Allegiant has insisted that it is not pulling out of CAK because Spirit is coming in.

“The base of our customers is coming from Cleveland. We’re going to listen to our customers,” said Lukas Johnson, Allegiant’s vice president of planning.

Industry observers have noted that Allegiant is moving away from a reliance on serving smaller airports and moving into larger markets.

Spirit, though, is seeking to pick up some smaller markets, a move prompted by the airline’s new CEO, Bob Fornaro.

As the former CEO of AirTran, Fornaro was familiar with Akron-Canton Airport.

Until it merged with Southwest Airlines in late 2014, AirTran was the major carrier at Akron-Canton and had flights to Florida, New York, Boston, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Milwaukee.

The flights drew many travelers from Greater Cleveland because AirTran fares were generally lower than those offered from Hopkins Airport.

Flight Cuts Hurt Youngstown Airport

October 29, 2016

The commercial airline woes continue for the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, which is losing flights and revenue.

Youngstown AirportAirport officials expect the yearly passenger count at the airport this year to be 110,000, which would be 20,000 less than in 2015.

The latest flight cutbacks were the cancellation of flights by Allegiant Air between Youngstown and Punta Gorda, Florida, near Fort Myers.

Aviation Director Dan Dickten said there is no clear date for when the Punta Gorda flights might be reinstated.

In late August the airport lost service to Chicago O’Hare International Airport by Great Lakes Jet Express.

Dickten said the lost flights have resulted in falling parking revenue. In 2015, the airport made $400,000 in parking revenue, but expects that to fall to about $315,000 this year.

Allegiant this year has expanded service to Akron-Canton Airport and Pittsburgh International Airport, which Dickten said has reduced the customer base for the Youngstown airport.

Allegiant announced earlier that it will move its flights from Akron-Canton to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and it is not clear what effect, if any, this would have on Allegiant operations in Youngstown.

Ultimate To Begin Burke-NYC Route in 2017

October 22, 2016

Ultimate Air Shuttle plans to begin scheduled service between Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland and the New York City region in early 2017.

Ultimate air shuttleNo date has been set for service to begin, but Rick Pawlak, managing director of the airline, said the company hopes to launch the flights by early March.

Ultimate will fly from Burke to Morristown (New Jersey) Municipal Airport, located about 27 miles from Manhattan. Fares are projected to be between $600 and $650.

“We’ve canvassed the business community. We know the demand is there,” Pawlak said.

The charter carrier is also looking at launching a route from Burke to Chicago’s Midway Airport next year.

Although Ultimate had hoped to start service from Cleveland to New York and Chicago this year, it has been unable to do so due to a lack of aircraft.

Ultimate Air Shuttle, a division of Ultimate JetCharters in North Canton, owns eight 30-seat Dornier 328 jets and one 30-seat Embraer 135 jet. It is hoping to acquire another Embraer jet for its fleet in 2017.

Ultimate began weekday service between Burke and Cincinnati Lunken Airport in October 2015.

Departing Burke for Cincinnati at 8:10 a.m. and 6:20 p.m., the fares on the route are $379 roundtrip.

U.S. Department of Transportation figures show that 4,359 passengers flew out of Burke during the first six months of 2016, including 3,861 on Ultimate Air. During the first six months in 2015, just 724 passengers departed from Burke.

Pawlak described the Cleveland-to-Cincinnati route as performing well. “We’re ready for the next step in our growth,” he said.

Airline Turbulence Continues at Akron-Canton

September 24, 2016

The churn of airline service at Akron-Canton Airport continued this week with the news that Allegiant Air will leave the airport early next year and that Spirit Airlines will increase the number of destinations that it plans to serve from CAK.

Akron-Canton AirportAkron-Canton will also see an increase in service by American Eagle in early October.

Allegiant, which began service to Akron-Canton in spring 2015, plans to move it flights from CAK to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

The discount carrier, which specializes in selling travel packages as well as air fares, will cease serving Akron-Canton on Feb. 15.

For its part, Spirit plans to begin service at Akron-Canton on Nov. 10, serving many of the same destinations that Allegiant now serves.

From Akron-Canton, Allegiant serves St. Petersburg, Florida; Punta Gorda, Florida; Orlando (Sanford); Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and Savannah, Georgia.

Many of those destinations are seasonal and none are served daily.

Allegiant said it would link Cleveland with all of those destinations as well as launch routes between Cleveland and Jacksonville, Florida.; Austin, Texas; New Orleans; and Phoenix.

Spirit will offer service from Akron-Canton to Orlando International Airport and to Fort Lauderdale. Allegiant’s Orlando flights actually go to Sanford.

Spirit also plans to provide winter seasonal service several times a week to Tampa and Fort Myers, Florida. Summer seasonal service to Myrtle Beach will begin next April 27.

This week Spirit announced that it will begin flying between Akron-Canton and Las Vegas on April 27, providing the first service between those cities since Southwest Airlines ended its flights on the route earlier this year.

American Eagle plans to institute twice daily service on Oct. 6 between Akron-Canton and Chicago O’Hare International Airport, and to increase its service between Akron-Canton and New York LaGuardia Airport to twice daily.

United Express currently flies between Akron and O’Hare.

Airport officials said Allegiant told them its flights to Akron-Canton had performed well.

But Allegiant chief operating officer and senior vice president of planning Jude Bricker told attendees of the International Aviation Forecast Summit this month that service between smaller airports and destination cities such as Orlando and Las Vegas has just about played itself out.

Bricker said Allegiant did well in those markets, saying the carrier now has 350 served markets in 109 cities.

“We serve more cities than Southwest Airlines, though we’re much thinner on peak days,” he said.

Allegiant recently began service to Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and plans to begin serving Newark Liberty International Airport.

In Ohio, Allegiant has service to Columbus, Toledo, Youngstown, Dayton and Cincinnati. It has never served Cleveland directly.

Akron-Canton Airport President and Chief Executive Officer Rick McQueen said Allegiant had an 88 percent load factor at CAK.

“It’s always disappointing to lose air service,” he said. “It’s a very precious commodity to the community. The Akron and Canton community really supported that service.”

Within the past year, Akron-Canton has lost service provided by Southwest Airlines. At one time, Southwest flew to Atlanta, Chicago Midway, LaGuardia, Washington Reagan National, Denver, Las Vegas and Orlando.

Today, Southwest continues to fly to Atlanta three times a day and has Saturday-only service to Orlando.

In a statement, Bricker said moving Allegiant’s flights to Cleveland “will allow Allegiant to have a stronger presence in Northeast Ohio and allow us to offer our low fares and convenient travel to even more travelers.”

Spirit also serves Cleveland and although it has said it expects to do well in Cleveland and Akron-Canton, there has been speculation that some Cleveland flights might migrate to Akron-Canton if the load factors out of Cleveland drop off.

Youngstown-Chicago Flights End

September 1, 2016

Scheduled airline service between Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport and Chicago has ended after local officials ceased funding it.

The last flights operated on Aug. 24, after the Western Reserve Port Authority decided on Aug. 17 to end its support of the flights, which were flown by Great Lakes Jet Express.

Youngstown AirportAerodynamics, Incorporated, which the port authority was paying to operate the flights, said in a news release that the discontinuance of financial support prompted the move.

The end of service occurred less than two months after it began on July 1. Youngstown continues to be served by low-fare carrier Allegiant Air and a charter operator that has periodic flights to casinos in New Jersey and Mississippi.

The Chicago service had been the first daily scheduled service to Youngstown in 14 years and airport officials say they continue to seek other carriers to serve the airport.

The Western Reserve board said one reason why it pulled it financial support was the discovery that ADI did not have a code sharing arrangement with United Airlines as it thought.

A code sharing arrangement means that a carrier has interline agreements for ticketing and baggage transfer with other carriers.

United had initially listed Great Lakes flights to Youngstown but removed them nine days before the service began.

Youngstown officials said they discovered that United had a code sharing agreement with ADI but not with Great Lakes.

“The interline agreement we thought we had, we didn’t,” said Dan Dickten, director of aviation for the airport. “We were told there would be a resolution on that and there wasn’t and we knew it was going to fail.”

Consequently, passengers had to buy separate tickets for connecting flights and go through security screening again in Chicago.

Great Lakes offered 19 flights per week using Embrarer regional jet equipment and connected with JetBlue, Delta and American , but Dickten said not having connections with United connection meant the service missed out on 60 percent of the market.

“We would never had started ticket sales had we known that there wouldn’t be an interline agreement with United Airlines,” he said.

Dickten said the Western Reserve board didn’t want to continue funding a service that was losing money and not attracting many passengers.

During July, Great Lakes had a load factor of 31 percent, which was well short of the 45 percent that Youngstown airport officials wanted to see.

For the flights to be profitable, patronage would need to be 85 to 90 percent or $8,500 per day in ticket revenue.

Funding for the Chicago-Youngstown service came from a $780,000 federal grant and $420,000 from a local hotel-bed tax fund and other sources.

Thus far, Youngstown-Warren airport had given ADI more than $361,000 for the service.

Western Reserve Port Authority Executive Director John Moliterno said the money allotted to ADI that has not been spent would be used to fund another service if possible.

“People want to fly out of this airport,” he said. “They appreciate the convenience we have, that’s what we have to offer. We’re going to continue to try to sell that. We’re going to offer that same thing to other airlines to encourage them to fly out of our airport, because we know that our people want to fly.”

Spirit to Launch CAK Service in November

August 2, 2016

Competition in the airline market between Northeast Ohio and Florida will heat up this November when discount carrier Spirit Airlines launches service to five destinations from Akron-Canton Airport.

Akron-Canton AirportAll five destination airports are currently served by Spirit flights from Cleveland and some destinations overlap service provided from Akron-Canton by another discount carrier, Allegiant Air.

The new flights from Akron-Canton will serve the Florida cities of Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers and Tampa. Spirit will also from Akron-Canton and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Allegiant serves all those Florida cities, although in most cases through satellite airports, as well as Myrtle Beach. It also links Akron-Canton with Savannah, Georgia.

The Orlando and Fort Lauderdale service will be year-round while the other flights will be seasonal. The flights begin on Nov. 10.

A Spirit executive said the Akron-Canton service was expected to complement rather than compete with the carrier’s flights from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

“In many ways, these are very separate markets,” said Mark Kopczak, Spirit’s vice present for network planning. “We can serve both markets, and serve them both well.”

Allegiant serves Orlando through an airport in Sanford, Florida. Southwest Airlines had daily service between Akron-Canton and Orlando, but ended it earlier this year. Southwest has since reinstated Orlando service on Saturdays for the summer.

Spirit Chief Executive Officer Bob Fornaro is a former AirTran Airways executive and has said that Spirit wants to expand into smaller markets.

“We are not an airline that is short of airplanes,” said Kopczak, adding that the carrier’s fleet includes 87 Airbus airplanes, with plans to add 50 more jets over the next five years.

He said Spirit might launch service Akron-Canton to additional cities and, for that matter, is eyeing expansion from Cleveland.

“We’re not done in Cleveland by any means,” Kopczak said.

AirTran had extensive service from Akron-Canton to various cities when it was acquired by Southwest.

Southwest flew from Akron-Canton to several cities, including Boston, New York, Washington, Orlando, Denver and Chicago, but ended all of those flights in favor of three daily roundtrips to Atlanta.

Spirit currently flies from Hopkins to 10 destinations.

Like Allegiant, Spirit touts its low base fares, but also has a long list of add-on fees for such things as seat assignments, checked baggage and glasses of water. Both carriers also target the leisure traveler market.

Spirit Cutting Air Service from Cleveland to DFW

August 1, 2016

Just as it was announcing new service to Akron-Canton Airport, Spirit Airlines was saying it would curtail service to Dallas-Fort Worth from Cleveland.

Cleveland HopkinsThe discount carrier said that it will suspend flights between Hopkins Airport and Dallas-Fort Worth between Nov. 10 and April 26, 2017. The service had been operating year-around.

“We’ve seen that the demand for CLE-DFW isn’t as strong as it needs to be in the winter months, so we’re going to do it seasonally,: Spirit spokesman Paul Berry told The Plain Dealer. “We’ve done this to several routes throughout the system, but this is the only route that affects CLE.”

Spirit also has seasonal service from Hopkins to Boston; Fort Myers and Tampa, Florida; and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

American Airlines also flies between Cleveland and Dallas-Fort Worth.

Another airport serving Northeast Ohio also will see seasonal flight cuts this fall.

Frontier Airlines said it will suspend flights between Pittsburgh International Airport  and Atlanta and Chicago at the end of October. Service between Pittsburgh and Denver will end on Jan. 4.

Rich Oliver, a Frontier spokesman, said the carrier redeploys planes during the winter months to take advantage of the demand for travel from cold weather markets to warm weather ones.

“We fly a very seasonal route network. The nice thing with airplanes is that you can move them around to match demand,” he said.

The Pittburgh flights are, for now, expected to resume next spring. However, Oliver said that would be subject to a study of how well the flight are patronized in the meantime.

Frontier launched service between Pittsburgh and Denver, Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas and Orlando in late June.

Oliver said Pittsburgh is one of 11 airports that will lose service to Denver for the winter with Cleveland being another of them.