Posts Tagged ‘Northeast Ohio airports’

Report Says Air Travelers Favoring Hopkins

June 8, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic brought many changes to air travel including a preference by Northeast Ohio air travelers to use Cleveland Hopkins Airport rather than Akron-Canton Airport, a report by WOIO-TV said.

The report attributed that trend to, in part, lack of air travel options at CAK.

Some air service that was lost at Akron-Canton during the pandemic has yet to return.

This includes Delta Air Line service to Atlanta, United Express flights to Houston, and American Eagle flights to New York LaGuardia and Chicago O’Hare airports.

United Express last spring ceased flying from CAK to Washington Dulles and Spirit Airlines is suspending service to Akron-Canton this month until November.

Some of those losses have been offset by such gains as Breeze Airways coming to Akron-Canton a year ago and Allegiant Air returning last March.

Both of those carriers offer low fare but less than daily flights to leisure travel destinations, many of which are in Florida.

Of course even before the pandemic Hopkins was by far the dominant airport in Northeast Ohio with 78 percent of the business.

The WOIO report did not say what percentage of the market Hopkins has now, writing only that, “a big chunk of travelers who once chose to fly out of Akron-Canton and other smaller airports in the area are now coming to Cleveland.”

At one time Youngstown had commercial flights but those ended in January 2018. Scheduled air service at Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport also ended during the pandemic and has not yet returned.

Cleveland’s Director of port control Robert Kennedy, who also serves as the director of Hopkins, said traffic at Hopkins is almost back to 2019 pre-pandemic levels.

During the summer travel season between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Hopkins expects to handle 2.8 million travelers. Last summer it saw 2.3 million travelers during the summer travel season.

Kennedy expects some increases in flights at both Hopkins and Akron-Canton once airlines and the Transportation Security Administration are able to hire additional workers.

As for more travelers seeming to prefer flying out of Hopkins, Kennedy said, that market has shifted and is “responding well to the flights and the carriers and the destinations” that Hopkins has.

“As soon as the resource issue is resolved we think we’ll see more flights,” Kennedy said.

Cleveland Airport Hotel to be Razed

June 8, 2022

The Sheraton Cleveland Airport Hotel will be demolished to make way for additional parking spaces

The hotel closed on May 31 after serving Hopkins Airport since 1959.

The airport bought the property for $12.15 million, which involved buying out the lease from the hotel owner, L&N Hospitality Cleveland, 26 years early.

Airport director Robert Kennedy said demolition of the hotel will be done later this year or in early 2023.

The hotel has 450 parking spaces and after it is razed there will be space for 400 to 500 additional spaces.

Hopkins now has 6,500 parking spaces, which significantly lags behind the 16,000 spaces run by the John Glenn Columbus International Airport and 14,000 at Pittsburgh International Airport.

However, some private companies operate parking facilities near Hopkins.

Kennedy said the hotel is no longer needed because most airport travelers begin or end their travels in Northeast Ohio. The primary users of the hotel in recent years have been flight crews on layover.

Airport officials said in recent years the hotel has been in disrepair with leaking roofs, water damage, unsafe electrical systems and other issues identified in a recent city inspection.

Long-term plans call for the construction of new parking garage near the site of the hotel. That facility also will house the rental car facility, which is now situated about a mile north of the airport terminal.

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.

Hopkins Parking Lots Are Full Many Days

April 17, 2022

With all of its parking lots routinely filled in recent weeks, officials at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport plan to reopen the remote Brown Lot in early May.

Airport director Robert Kennedy told The Plain Dealer that the parking squeeze was due to a faster than expected demand for air travel this spring.

The airport has resurfaced and repainted the Brown lot, which is located north of the terminal. It has 500 spaces and charges $11 per day, the least expensive parking option at Hopkins.

An airport-operated shuttle service connects the Brown lot with the terminal.

Even privately owned airport parking lots along Snow Road have been at or near capacity in recent weeks.

Air travel at Hopkins this past March was 91 percent of what it was during the same month in 2019 a year before the onset of the COVID-19 sent air travel spiraling downward.

On March 25, Hopkins saw 32,000 passengers, the highest single-day number since Oct. 25, 2019.

Airport officials said the pandemic also has dramatically reduced the number of passengers who reach the airport via such ride sharing services as Uber and Lyft.

They attribute that to reluctance by many travelers to share space with strangers, a byproduct of the pandemic.

The airport operates five parking lots with prices ranging from $15 to $20 per day with a combined 6,350 spaces.

A repair project to the Smart Garage at the airport has led to the closing off of 200 spaces that won’t be available until late 2022.

A small surface lot next to the garage has been transformed from public parking to employee-only parking.

Kennedy acknowledged the airport lost revenue by taking those spaces out of public parking inventory.

He said most airport workers park off site and ride a shuttle to the terminal. Without elaborating he said the spaces in the employee-only lot were created due to an operational need.

In a related development, the airport may creating additional parking on the site of the current Sheraton Cleveland Airport Hotel.

The Plain Dealer reported the hotel is millions of dollars in debt and faces closure later this year.

The hotel owner, LN Hospitality, has missed making rent and other payments to the city, according to court documents and it defaulted on a $12.5 million loan from an Arkansas bank that has since filed a lawsuit against the hotel owner.

The hotel remains open for business but its occupancy has fallen dramatically since Hopkins lost its status as a hub operation for Continental and later United Airlines.

Both carriers used the hotel to put up flight crews and travelers stranded between flights.

The hotel, which opened in 1959 and was expanded in 1972, has 243 available rooms and a 468-space parking lot.

Cleveland city inspectors last November “identified numerous maintenance, safety and deficient care issues of the hotel,” according to court documents.

The Hopkins master plan envisions the land on which the hotel is located being used for additional parking.

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 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.

Hopkins Laying Groundwork for Terminal Project

January 26, 2022

Cleveland Hopkins Airport is expected to take the first steps this year toward a major overhaul of its passenger terminal.

The Plain Dealer reported that Airport Director Robert Kennedy said the start of the bulk of the work is at least three years away and will take more than 10 years to complete.

But this year’s work is expected to include utility work and razing of old building. Airport officials also expect to begin talking with airlines about how to finance the terminal project.

Airlines are expected to contribute a significant amount of the financing through the fees they pay to use the airport.

Plans calls for a $2 billion rebuilding of the terminal to create new concourses, consolidated security checkpoints, expanded ticketing areas and a new customs facility.

The project is expected to be completed in stages.

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.