Posts Tagged ‘Cleveland Hopkins Airport’

FAA Ends Probe of Hopkins Snow Removal

July 6, 2021

An investigation into snow and ice removal at Cleveland Hopkins Airport has closed without further action.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it was satisfied with changes the airport has made in the wake of a settlement the agency reached with Hopkins five years ago.

 “The city of Cleveland has made substantial improvements in the processes, equipment, staffing, and management of the implementation of the snow and ice control plan,” wrote Susan Mowery-Schiak, the director of the FAA’s airports division.

In 2015 the FAA fined Hopkins $735,000 for failing to adequately staff snow removal teams and deice runways. The resulting conditions led some flights to divert to other airports.

The FAA found that airport officials failed to alert air carriers of the poor conditions and to deter planes from taxiing or landing on slick, hazardous surfaces.

FAA investigators listed dozens of dates between 2013 and 2015 when staffing at Hopkins fell far short of requirements.

This past May, airport officials informed the FAA of improvements they have made and how Hopkins has fully complied with a settlement reached with the agency in 2016.

The FAA had threatened to levy additional fines on Hopkins unless it had taken action.

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.

Hopkins Officials Show Their Future Vision

May 20, 2021

Officials of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport this week released details of a new master plan that will create an expanded terminal, provide more parking and establish a new entrance from nearby Interstate 71.

Under the proposal, the terminal will have five concourses, a centralized security checkpoint and a new location for customs inspections of international travelers.

The $2 billion plan was described by airport director Robert Kennedy in a meeting with a Cleveland City Council committee as an effort to create a mostly new airport that is easier to use and would provide larger, more modern facilities.

Airport officials acknowledged there is no guarantee their vision will be implemented.

A key sticking point is that the airport has yet to determine how it will pay for the plan.

Yet airport planner manager Nicholas Belluardo told council: “We did not propose a plan that is going to sit on a shelf.”

Much of the plan is expected to be paid for by airline user fees. The airport isn’t expected to begin discussing fees with its airlines for another couple of years.

Kennedy said officials are waiting for airlines to more fully recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that sent airline travel plunging.

Many expect it will be two more years before the airline industry recovers from the pandemic.

The proposed changes at the airport would be phased in over a 20-year period.

Rebuilding the terminal would result in 29 percent of the airline terminal being renovated and the remaining 71 percent being brand new.

The existing terminal at Hopkins is an amalgamation of various components, some of which were built in the 1950s. Major renovations and expansions of the terminal took place in the 1970s and 1990s.

Kennedy said the first phase of the project is estimated to cost $780 million and begin in 2026. It would involve renovating the existing concourses A and C while replacing concourse B.

A new concourse E would extend south from the main terminal.

The newest part of the terminal, concourse D, would be razed. Built in 1999, it was created to serve small commuter-type aircraft for Continental Airlines, which at the time had a hub in Cleveland.

Continental has since merged with United Airlines, which closed the Cleveland hub in 2014.

Kennedy said concourse D, which currently is unused, was not built for the aircraft in use today at the airport. Renovating it would be more expensive than replacing it.

Since 2014, local travelers have begun making up most of those using Hopkins. Far fewer of the airport’s users are passengers making connections in Cleveland.

In the long term, concourse C will be replaced and a new concourse D will be built.

Kennedy said design work on the airport project won’t begin until financing is secured.

Creating a new entrance to Hopkins from I-71 will be a separate project funded by state and federal highway construction dollars.

Kennedy said airport officials want to reconfigure the entrance into the airport to remove traffic lights and straightening the pickup and drop-off areas at the front of the terminal. U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur has requested $2 million in federal transportation funding to finance the engineering and feasibility of the new I-71 interchange.

Ultimate Air Resumes Cleveland Flights

May 10, 2021

Northeast Ohio-based Ultimate Air Shuttle has resumed flights between Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland and Cincinnati Lunken Airport.

The carrier, which is based at Akron-Canton Airport resumed flying the route last month after suspending service in mid 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ultimate operates as an air charter carrier offering public charters.

In other airline news, Spirit Airlines has begun a route between Akron-Canton Airport and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

The flights do not operate every day. Spirit also links CAK and Orlando and has winter and spring seasonal service to Tampa and Fort Myers.

At Cleveland Hopkins Airport, Frontier Airlines plans to start flying to Atlanta on June 11.

The quad-weekly flights will have plenty of competition as the route is also served by Delta, Southwest and Spirit airlines.

Frontier is currently flying from Cleveland to Orlando, Fort Myers, Tampa, Miami and Sarasota in Florida, plus Denver, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Cancun.

Elsewhere in Ohio, airlines continue to resume flights suspended during the pandemic.

John Glenn Columbus airport has regained flights on American Eagle to New York LaGuardia Airport and to Boston on Delta Connection.

Spirit will begin service in early June from Columbus to Los Angeles and Pensacola, Florida, while Southwest Airlines will begin service to Myrtle Beach on June 6.

Cleveland Hopkins Airport Director Robert Kennedy said the airport is at 50 percent of the passenger traffic it had in 2019 but expressed optimism that summer travel will boost business.

Hopkins expects to handle between 5.2 million to 5.9 million passengers this year, well below the 10.5 million projected at the beginning of 2020, but better than the 4 million handled last year.

Akron-Canton Airport handled nearly 10,000 passengers during March, a 63 percent drop compared with March 2019, but well better than the 85.3 percent decline in June 2020 compared with June 2019.

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.

Cleveland RTA Eyes Standardized Rail Car Fleet

February 5, 2021
Two Greater Cleveland RTA Blue Line trains pass in June 2013.

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority is eyeing a standardized type of light-rail car for use on all rail lines of its network.

The move, which was reported by rail passenger advocacy group All Aboard Ohio on its website, is part of a request for proposals for replacement cars.

Cleveland RTA is looking to spend $350 million to buy 40 to 45 cars to replace its aging fleet, a process that is expected to be done in two phases.

Currently, RTA uses cars built by Tokyu on the Red Line between East Cleveland and Cleveland Hopkins Airport via downtown.

Those cars, which were delivered in 1984-1985 would be replaced first because they have substantially deteriorated.

The Green, Blue and Waterfront lines use cars built by Breda that were delivered in 1980-81.

Although those cars are older, they have held up better than the Red Line cars.

RTA is reportedly seeking a type of car that serves both low and high-level platforms.

The Red Line has high-level platforms whereas all other rail lines have low-level platforms.

Stations at East 34th, East 55th and Tower City have both types of platforms.

Americans With Disabilities Act standards require transit platforms to be the same height or within 2 inches of a train car’s floor. Rail car doorways must be no farther than 4 inches from the edge of the platform.

This means whatever type of car RTA buys must be adaptable in use to varying platform heights or all of the agency’s station platforms must be modified to be a uniform height.

The two types of rail cars used by RTA have different specifications for floor height and doorway width.

There are transit rail cars in use today in the United States that are capable of adapting to varying platform sizes.

AAO’s report, which cited unnamed RTA officials, said it isn’t clear if the agency will move to standardize platform dimensions or seek rail cars that can adapt to platforms of varying heights.

The report said RTA’s may make that decision based on the responses it gets from its request for proposals. Cost may be the deciding issue.

One advantage of a standardized rail car fleet would be the ability to run direct service from the Blue and Green lines to Hopkins Airport.

Currently, passengers originating on the Blue or Green lines must change cars at either 55th Street or Tower City to get to Hopkins.

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.

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.

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.