Posts Tagged ‘Cleveland Hopkins Airport’

Allegiant to Revive Service at Akron-Canton Airport

October 27, 2021

A month after announcing it would pull out of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Allegiant Air said it will put down roots at the Akron-Canton Airport next March.

It will be the second time Allegiant has served CAK. It initially began flying to Akron-Canton in May 2015 but left in February 2017 in favor of serving Hopkins.

Allegiant officials said Tuesday that it will link Akron-Canton with four destinations, three of them in Florida.

Starting March 2, Allegiant will fly from CAK to Punta Gorda, Sarasota and St. Petersburg as well as Savannah, Georgia.

Flights will operate twice a week. Allegiant will be the third airline to fly from Akron-Canton to the Tampa Bay region. Spirit Airlines and Moxie Airways fly to Tampa.

Introductory one way fares to all destinations are priced as low as $59.

By moving back to Akron-Canton, Allegiant is banking that leisure and price sensitive travelers living in Greater Cleveland will be willing to drive to CAK, which is located between Akron and Canton in Green Township.

CAK had success in luring travelers from the Cleveland area in the early to mid 2000s when low fare carrier AirTran offered flights to numerous destinations.

Allegiant’s presence will give CAK three low fare carrier, all of which focus primarily on leisure travelers and which usually offer less than daily service on most routes.

At the time that Allegiant said it would cease serving Hopkins, it cited high airline fees as a factor, saying plans to build a new terminal at Hopkins would make the airline’s cost structure prohibitive for its business model.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Mike Graci, Allegiant’s manager for airport affairs, said CAK has lower operating costs than Hopkins, which he said it critical to enabling Allegiant to keep offer lower fares.

Graci said Allegiant is studying other potential destinations from Akron-Canton, all of which have beaches or cultural significance.

Ren Camacho, president of the airport, said no funds from a JobsOhio program created to help the state’s airports regain lost service were used to lure Allegiant back to CAK.

He said airport officials have been talking with Allegiant about reinstating service to Akron-Canton since Allegiant left more than four years ago.

United Boosting Cleveland Flights This Winter

October 10, 2021

United Airlines said last week it will add seasonal service to Cleveland that will boost service to Florida and restore flights to Phoenix and Las Vegas.

The service expansion from Hopkins Airport is part of a broader schedule change that will see the carrier increase system wide service to 3,500 daily domestic flights or 91 percent of the capacity it offered in December 2019 before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

From Cleveland, United will operate about 200 flights a week for an average of 30 per day, its highest level of service since the airline closed its hub at Hopkins in 2014.

Hopkins officials said United last flew to Las Vegas in 2016 and to Phoenix in 2014. The flights to those destinations will begin in mid December and run through late March.

Currently Frontier Airlines flies between Cleveland and Phoenix with Southwest Airlines flying the route on Saturdays.

Frontier and Spirit Airlines fly the Cleveland-Las Vegas route with Southwest also operating Saturday flights.

United said it will resume daily flights from Cleveland to Tampa on Oct. 31, the same day it adds a second flight to Orlando. Second daily flights will be added from Hopkins to Fort Myers and Fort Lauderdale on Dec. 16.

Seasonal service between Cleveland and Nassau in the Bahamas also is slated to begin this winter.

Airline officials said United continues to emphasize domestic leisure flights because the pandemic continues to hinder the demand for business travel.

A United spokesman said searches for holiday season flights in December on its website are up 16 percent compared with December 2019.

In addition to the service increases in Cleveland, United said it will restart service to Fort Myers from Columbus, Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, as well as add new service to Orlando from Indianapolis.

Allegiant to Stop Flying to Cleveland in January

October 1, 2021

Low fare carrier Allegiant Air will cease flying to Cleveland Hopkins Airport next January, citing high fees which it said would make it difficult to hold fares down.

The last Allegiant flight will take off from Hopkins on Jan. 3, 2022.

Passengers holding tickets for travel on Allegiant from Cleveland after that date will be offered a refund of their paid fare or accommodated on Allegiant flights serving other airports.

Allegiant flies from Cleveland to seven destinations, including five in Florida. It accounts for 3 percent of Hopkins passenger traffic.

In a statement, Allegiant’s Hilarie Grey, managing director of corporate communications, said the carrier’s flights in Cleveland had been “very successful” but the decision to leave Hopkins was rooted in the airport’s cost structure.

 “Unfortunately with the airport’s construction projects and major expansion, the cost structure has become prohibitive to our operation – our business model hinges upon our ability to keep fares low for our customers,” Grey said.

Allegiant began flying to Hopkins in 2017 after ending its flights to Akron-Canton Airport.

The website Simply Flying suggested that Allegiant might eye a return to CAK as an alternative to flying to Hopkins.

It cited the example of Columbus where Allegiant uses Rickenbacker International Airport rather than John Glenn Columbus International Airport.

Allegiant is the only passenger carrier at Rickenbacker, which also serves charter flights and air cargo operations.

Cleveland’s Allegiant flight destinations include Orlando-Sanford, Punta Gorda, Sarasota, St. Petersburg and Jacksonville in Florida and Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah-Hilton Head, Georgia.

None of those flights operate daily, which is typical for many routes offered by low fare carriers.

Airline fees at Hopkins have traditionally been among the highest in the industry.

Airport officials said that despite some recent construction projects, those fees have not increased to pay for them.

However, Hopkins and many other airports saw the fees they charge airlines spike during the COVID-19 pandemic due to diminished passenger traffic. Those fees were expected to diminish as traffic rebuilt.

A story in The Plain Dealer/Cleveland.com said fees at Hopkins are structured to reward carriers that fly more. That hurt Allegiant because its flights operate less than once daily.

Hopkins Airport director Robert Kennedy said he has sought to keep airline fees in check by cutting the airport’s debt and increasing revenue from non-airline operations.

Nonetheless, Hopkins has begun the process of planning to build a new airport terminal and airline fees are expected to help fund that.

Construction of the new terminal is not expected to begin until 2025 at the earliest.

 In other airline news affecting Hopkins, United Airlines plans to launch service on Dec. 18 from Cleveland to Lynden Pindling International Airport in Nassau in the Bahamas.

The Saturday-only flights will be the only direct service to the Caribbean from Cleveland this winter.

The flights will use Embraer 175 regional jets, meaning they will be operated by a contract carrier flying under the United Express banner.

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.