Posts Tagged ‘Northeast Ohio airports’

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.

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.

Stark OKs Aid to Akron-Canton Airport Airline Fund

January 16, 2021

Stark County commissioners have approved a contribution of $50,000 to the fund to start or restore non-stop airline service to Akron-Canton Airport.

The money will be overseen by the Stark Development Board and comes on top of at least $200,000 committed to the Commercial Air Service Restoration Program by other local governments in Summit and Stark counties since October.

Akron-Canton Airport President and CEO Ren Camacho that thus far no airline has agree to resume or begin new service to the airport.

He expects that won’t happen until the air travel market recovers further from a steep decline it suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic that led to massive flight cancellations across the country.

“We’re talking to all of the airlines at this point,” Camacho said. “Any airline that provides an opportunity to any markets lost to COVID, that’s who we’re talking to this point. We’ve had some good conversations with some of the airlines but no commitments yet from their end.”

He said any new or restored service will depend on the route, the frequency of service to be operated and the size of the aircraft to be used on the route.

Once the pandemic has been tamed Comacho expects airline travel to take off due to pent up demand.

The air service would act as a backstop for any initial losses or startup costs. An airline would receive up to a negotiated amount of what it lost serving the route.

Aside from local governments, the fund is receiving funding from JobsOhio, the state’s economic development entity, which is providing a 4-to-1 match for any locally raised funds.

If an airline makes a profit on a new or restored route, the fund will not pay out anything to the carrier.

In particular, airport officials want to entice Delta Air Lines to resume service to Atlanta.

However, Akron-Canton also lost service to New York (LaGuardia), Washington (Reagan National) and Houston (Bush Intercontinental) during the pandemic.

Camacho said airline traffic at Akron-Canton is about 30 percent of what it was a year ago.

Other government entities that have contributed money to the airline restoration fund include the Summit County Council ($50,000), Green ($50,000), Akron ($30,000), Stark County Port Authority ($25,000), an individual who wishes to remain anonymous ($20,000), Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce ($10,000), Jackson Township ($10,000), and VisitCanton and Akron Summit Convention and Visitors Bureau ($5,000).

Camacho said neither he nor his staff can negotiate with airlines on an agreement. Those talks must be handled by a committee that has yet to be formed.

Members might includes representatives of the Stark Development Board, Canton Regional Chamber of  Commerce or local government officials.

Akron-Canton Airport Lauded by TSA

December 21, 2020

Akron-Canton Airport has been named one of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration’s 2020 airports of the year.

The airport located in Green won the designation in its size category.

TSA officials cited the airport’s efforts to improve its workplace during a challenging year.

That included the TSA officers assigned to CAK launching the airport’s “It Starts With Me” campaign that emphasized personal responsibility and accountability in the workplace.

Winning airports were chosen based on the result of a federal employee survey and a focus group that centered on improving customer service and the work environment.

Other airports honored included George Bush International Airport in Houston, Eugene Airport in Oregon and Miami International Airport.

Akron-Canton also became this month the first Ohio airport to receive a global health accreditation from the Airports Council International, which ensures the facility is following certain measures to mitigate health risks.

That includes cleaning and disinfection, physical distancing, staff protection, physical layout, passenger communications and passenger facilities.

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.

Delta CAK Suspension Remains Indefinite

October 21, 2020

Akron-Canton is among 16 airports where Delta Air Lines said that service will remain suspended for an indefinite period of time.

Delta had flown between Akron-Canton and Atlanta mid May when it suspended the service due to reduced travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The carrier said it has no set plans to return to Akron-Canton. Other cities on the indefinite suspension list include Erie, Pennsylvania, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Flint, Michigan.

“We are continuously monitoring demand trends and are rebuilding our network as demand resumes,”said Delta spokesperson Drake Castañeda.

Flights are typically set a month ahead of time, which means that in theory Delta could return to any of the 16 suspended airports no earlier than December.

But industry observers believe the indefinite nature of the suspensions reflect uncertainty in the air travel market.

Airlines are expected in November to have 40 percent fewer flights than they did that month a year ago.

Delta in particular expects to fly about 40 percent to 45 percent of the flights it operated in the fourth quarter of 2019, which is three points more than the three months that ended in September.

Akron-Canton still has service to Philadelphia and Charlotte by American Eagle, and to Chicago O’Hare Airport by United Express.

Spirit Airlines operates less-than-daily service to Orlando although it plans to resume daily service on the Orlando route later this year.

Still suspended are flights from Akron-Canton to New York LaGuardia, Washington Dulles, Washington Reagan National, and Houston Bush Intercontinental airports.

American Eagle service to Chicago O’Hare also remains suspended.

Hopkins Officials Eye 3 Options For Airport Terminal Development

October 19, 2020

Three plans have emerged for the future of the terminal at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, ranging from a new terminal to renovating the existing structure.

The options were discussed last week at a public hearing although officials said there is no assurance that any of the options will be implemented.

Nonetheless airport officials said during the hearing that the airport needs more ticketing and gate space, additional parking, more efficient and larger security and customs areas, better roadway access, and an on-site car rental facility.

The new terminal proposal would use the existing terminal’s footprint but involve two parallel buildings connected via an underground tunnel.

A second proposal would keep the existing terminal largely intact but lengthen concourse B, widen concourse C and reopen concourse D.

The third option would be to keep keep Concourse A but replace concourses B, C and D.

The next step in the planning process is to narrow the options to a preferred alternative and conduct studies of how to fund the project.

Officials did not say how much the options would cost but a new terminal would be expected to cost more than $1 billion.

During the hearing, consultants discussed options for improving airport access.

Among the proposals are rerouting Ohio Route 237, also known as the Berea Freeway, and creating a new elevated exit for the airport from Interstate 71 at Snow Road.

The consultants also recommended that the airport do a better job of enforcing limits on how long vehicles can wait on the lower level of the terminal to pick up arriving travelers.

Their report said the average wait time of five minutes is creating congestion. The average wait time at airports of similar size is three minutes.

“The problem is not how much curb [space] there is but how efficiently it is managed and how well the public obeys [the rules],” said Owen Curtis of Curtis Transportation Consulting.

Hopkins Satisfaction Improves, But Still Puts it Among Nation’s Least Popular Airports

September 28, 2020

Although traveler satisfaction with Cleveland Hopkins Airport has risen, it remains rated among the worst airports for its size according to a survey made by marketing firm J.D. Power.

Hopkins improved its score in the annual survey from 755 to 786 but that placed it third from the bottom among medium-sized airport, which handle 4 million to 9.9 million passengers annually.

The highest potential score is 1,000. In 2020 the average score for all airports was 784.

The top-rated airport in the medium category was Indianapolis with Pittsburgh also ranking in the top five.

The J.D. Power survey was conducted from October 2019 through July 2020, meaning it covered the period during which air travel plunged due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Cleveland would have been ranked as a “large” airport based on its 2019 passenger totals of 10 million.

A spokesman for J.D. Power said the rankings are planned far in advance and thus don’t use the most up-to-date passenger numbers.

Had Cleveland been rated as a large airport it would have ranked 17th out of 28 airports.

Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power, said North America’s top-rated airports have in common an open, airy experience that feels more like a well-designed shopping mall than an airport.

“These airports also do a good job of conveying local flavor in their passenger experience, from food and beverage offerings that feature regional specialties to design cues that evoke local color,” he said.

Among the largest airports, which handled 33 million or more passengers a year, Phoenix ranked first and Newark last. Among large airports (10 million to 32.9 million passengers annually), Dallas Love Field ranked best and New York LaGuardia ranked worst.

In an unrelated development, Cleveland officials said the announced closing of the International Exposition Center at the airport is expected to mean a loss of more than $2 million to the airport.

I-X Center Corporation, which leased the exposition center from the city, had been paying $2 million in annual rent.

The company renting the I-X Center said it would close the facilities due to a collapse of business following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Air Travel at Hopkins Up in July

August 29, 2020

Airline travel was up 53 percent in July at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport over what it was in June but still well below 2019 levels.

During July 320,800 used Hopkins, many of them leisure travelers. A year ago that figure was 971,000.

This past June Hopkins saw 209,000 travelers. Airport director Robert Kennedy now expects Hopkins to handle 4.1 million passengers for 2020.

That’s well below his predictions early this year that the airport would break last year’s mark of 10.04 million.

Of course Kennedy made that prediction before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has severely depressed airline travel around the world.

In an unrelated development, a Cleveland-based airline said this week it will stop flying on Sept. 30 after its agreement with United Airlines expires.

ExpressJet said the move will affect the jobs of 75 mechanics working at Hopkins. The carrier had earlier this year relocated out of Cleveland hundreds of pilots and flight attendants.

Flying under the United Express banner, ExpressJet got its start as a contract carrier for Continental Airlines, which had a hub in Cleveland.

United has decided to shift its United Express brand flights from ExpressJet to CommutAir, a carrier based in North Olmsted. Both carriers fly 50-seat Embraer 145 regional jets.