Posts Tagged ‘Ren Camacho’

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.

CAK Hopes to Lure Delta Back With $1M Incentive Fund

October 24, 2020

Akron-Canton Airport is banking on a $1 million incentive fund to lure Delta Air Lines into reinstating flights to Atlanta.

The fund was started with a grant of $80,000 from JobsOhio. The rest of the money is being provided by local organizations, businesses and units of government.

Federal law prohibits airports from directly subsidizing air service, but they can provide financial support for such things as marketing and waive certain fees normally charged to airlines in return for providing service.

In this case, Akron-Canton would guarantee revenue for Delta should the route not generate a profit on its own, said Lisa Dalpiaz, the airport’s director of marketing and air service development.

Delta suspended its service between Akron-Canton and Atlanta in May and recently indicated that the suspension will remain indefinitely.

Airport officials say getting back service to Atlanta is important because it is the world’s busiest airport and thus offers numerous connections.

The efforts to woo Delta into resuming service come at a time when Akron-Canton has suffered massive losses of passengers due to the CVOID-19 pandemic.

The airport located in Green has also seen its number of flights and non-stop destinations drop significantly.

The latest federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics figures show Akron-Canton handled 16,002 passengers in August, a 76 percent drop from what it handled in August 2019.

“Smaller regional airports are having a more difficult time,” said Ren Camacho, president and CEO of Akron-Canton,

“The airlines are getting smaller, and when they get smaller they tend to focus on their hub activities, those routes that will be as profitable as possible for them.”

In recent months Akron-Canton Airport has averaged seven flights per day this month to Charlotte, Philadelphia and Chicago O’Hare airports.

Spirit Airlines provides twice weekly service to Orlando, although that service was suspended for a few weeks last month.

Airport officials expect United Airlines through its United Express partner to begin service in December to Washington Dulles International Airport.

They also expect Spirit to resume its seasonal service to Fort Myers and Tampa, and to increase the number of weekly Orlando flights.

But no dates have been announced for resumption of service to Washington Reagan National, New York LaGuardia or Houston.

United had announced earlier this year that its service to Dulles would replace the existing service to Newark. Both Dulles and Newark are major hubs for United.

Camacho said service to Atlanta is the route that many in the Akron-Canton region want back the most based on recent surveys of travelers who use the airport.

He said a committee with representatives from JobsOhio and the community are considering approaching Delta later this year to try to persuade it to resume the Atlanta service in spring 2021.

“We understand they have a business decision to make,” Camacho said. “We have an opportunity to try to mitigate some of that risk. We want to see them back.”

A Delta spokesman declined to say whether a financial incentive might lure the carrier into returning service to Akron-Canton.

“At this time, we do not have a date to resume service to Akron-Canton. We are continuously monitoring demand trends and are rebuilding our network as demand resumes,” he said.

At the time that Delta suspended service to Akron-Canton last spring it said the market would be adequately served by flights to Hopkins Airport.

Akron-Canton officials protested that, saying airlines that accepts emergency aid under the CARES Act were banned from dropping service to individual markets.

However, the U.S. Department of Transportation sided with Delta in its contention that Akron-Canton is part of the larger Cleveland air service market.

Camacho still disagrees with that, saying,”our economy, the greater Akron- Canton economy, is separate from Cleveland’s.”

During November, Akron-Canton expects to see 46 flights a week compared with the 152 it hosted in November 2019.

Capacity for the month is projected to be 3,016 seats per week compared with 9.987 in November 2019.

CAK Has Escaped Service Cuts Thus Far

September 9, 2020

With federal emergency aid running out on Sept. 30, airlines have been announcing service cuts and employee layoffs set to take effect in October.

Thus far Akron-Canton Airport has escaped losing service next month by any of its three carriers although officials have indicated that service to the airport remains below what it was before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.

Airport CEO Ren Camacho said service is now 15 flights a day provided by Spirit Airlines, United Express and American Eagle.

Flights are currently linking CAK with Chicago O’Hare, Orlando, Philadelphia and Charlotte.

“It’s been 20 percent of the traffic then we had before the pandemic began, so we’re averaging about anywhere between three to four hundred passengers a day where we would normally average about 2,000 passengers a day,” Camacho said.

At the depth the pandemic last spring Akron-Canton was seeing as few as 30 passengers a day.

American has announced that it will stop flying to 15 cities next month, which it serves with its American Eagle-branded partners.

None of those cities are in Ohio, but American plans to stop flying to Huntington, West Virginia; Williamsport, Pennsylvania; and Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Airport officials had earlier expressed optimism that service from Akron-Canton would be reinstated this fall to New York’s LaGuardia, Washington Reagan National, Houston Bush Intercontinental and Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airports.

They also expect seasonal service by Spirit to return to Tampa and Fort Myers in late fall.

It is unclear how many of those routes will be reinstated during a time when airlines are announcing widespread cuts in scheduled flights for the fall.

Airline announcements have warned of further flight cuts, which could mean Akron-Canton might lose some of the flights it has now.

Although there had been some upturn in leisure air travel during the summer that season has ended.

Security checkpoint figures released by the U.S. Transportation Security Agency show that 711,178 travelers passed through security checkpoints on a recent Monday, a decline of nearly 70 percent compared to the same day in 2019.

In an effort to stimulate travel, United, American and Delta have announced that they are temporarily suspending change fees imposed when travelers change their days of travel or switch to another flight on the same day.

Camacho said restaurant and other concessions at the airport remain open, but at reduced hours.

Akron-Canton received $7.6 million in CARES Act funding and plans to apply to over four years against projected losses of $3 million due to the pandemic.

Traffic Picking Up at Akron-Canton Airport

June 29, 2020

Akron-Canton Airport is starting to see passenger traffic pick up and Airport CEO Ren Camacho expects a further growth in average daily traffic in July and August.

Speaking during a virtual Akron Roundtable session last week, Camacho said traffic was so slow during April that what had been a normal average of 2,000 passengers per day plunged to a trickle of about 100 passengers per day.

Comacho said the second phase of a $34 million gate modernization project will be completed by July 13.

Once new gates open in a two-level, 41,600-square-foot concourse, an older gate concourse will be razed.

The airport expects to post a nearly $3 million deficit this year but that will be offset in part by $7.6 million in CARES Act funding.

“It sounds like a lot of money, but it’s over a four-year window,” he said.

In an unrelated development, airport officials said they’ve selected Akron artist Lenny Spengler to design its atrium terrazzo floor as part of the airport’s concourse expansion project.

Spengler will create a tree design with leaves depicting historical images from the region, including the Goodyear Blimp and All-American Soap Box Derby and portraits of LeBron James and Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys.

The floor replacement project, expected to cost $150,000, is expected to be completed by November when the gate modernization project will wrap up.

Spengler, who has been an artist for more than 24 years, is the sole proprietor and creative director of Where’s Squiggy Creative LLC, a creative arts agency, and owner and silversmith of Studio Lené, an Akron metalsmith studio.

“A tree rooted in the Akron-Canton area can attribute its flourishing to the diverse collection of people, places and events that have shaped it,” Spengler said. “The people who have helped establish it as a city, the places that have helped define its purpose, and the events that have helped illustrate its image, are all leaves on the tree.”

More than 25 artists submitted designs for the airport’s atrium floor, which were reviewed by a panel of judges from Arts Now, ArtsInStark and the Akron-Canton Airport.

Camacho said the designs were evaluated based on whether they created a “sense of place,” appeared timeless and sparked a conversation.

Airline Traffic Up at CLE, Down at CAK in 2019

February 20, 2020

Cleveland Hopkins Airport passenger traffic topped 10 million last year while passenger counts continued to slide at Akron-Canton Airport.

The passenger numbers at Hopkins were up 4.13 percent over 2018 and were the highest they’ve been in more than 10 years.

Akron-Canton handled 834,365 passengers in 2019, down 9.7 percent from the 923,802 recorded in 2018.

In the past five years passenger traffic at Akron-Canton has fallen by 44 percent since 1.5 million in 2015.

Cleveland airport officials say they expect passenger traffic to continue growing this year.

Traffic at Hopkins has been rising steadily – up 32 percent – since 2014 despite United Airlines closing its hub in Cleveland that year.

The high water mark for air traffic in Cleveland was 11.11 million in 2008.

Although some flight destinations lost due to United pullback have yet to be replaced, other carriers have increased their flights out of Cleveland, most notably low fare carriers Spirit, Allegiant and Frontier.

Akron-Canton airport head Renato “Ren” Camacho is optimistic that his airport will rebound from its falling traffic numbers.

However, he acknowledged that the 2019 passenger count was below what airport officials had expected.

Aside from lost flights in recent years, Akron-Canton has been hindered by a decline in business travel, which accounts for 60 percent of those using the airport.

Camacho said airline industry consolidation has hurt boarding at Akron-Canton because there are fewer flights, fewer seats and fewer airlines.

Many carriers continue to focus on their hub locations, he said.

Later this year Akron-Canton will complete a $34 million gate modernization and expansion that includes a bi-level 41,600-square-foot concourse.

Camacho hopes that better facilities will help lure additional passengers, which might translate into more flights.

In recent years Akron-Canton has also expanded a runway, modernized its ticketing facilities, upgraded its entrance road and added a covered parking lot.

It is eyeing non airline service related sources of revenue including parking, restaurants and food options.

“We want the airport to be a place where people can go and congregate, Comacho said.

Although no new service to Akron-Canton is on the horizon, Comacho said American Eagle will add business class service in March to its daily flight to New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

United Express this spring will switch its flights now going to Newark Liberty Airport to Washington Dulles Airport.

In the past week Delta Airline has replaced a mainline jet on one of its three flights between Akron-Canton and Atlanta with a regional jet.

In the meantime, a rehabilitated visitors center at the airport has opened. The center focuses on promoting Stark and Summit counties as a leisure tour destination.

The rehab work at the center included new flooring, display lighting and a desk. Large screen TVs show promotional videos of places to visit such as museums, restaurants, entertainment venues and outdoor recreation facilities.

The videos also promote sporting and other events.

The visitors center is located across from the food court near the airport terminal’s front entrance.

It is jointly operated by the airport, the Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Visit Canton, the Stark County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.

The cost of the renovation was $175,000 with working getting underway last August.