It’s OK to still bask in the afterglow of Cleveland’s high-impact reintroduction to the world last year.
After all, it was 30 years in the making. But, as business leaders know, what comes next is always top of mind.
At the Greater Cleveland Partnership, we’re focused on shaping our three-year strategic plan, to be completed by year-end. It will include expanding air service at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE), which has been a top GCP priority for the past several years.
Our Air Service Demand Task Force, chaired by Lee Thomas, retired partner with EY, continues working with the City of Cleveland and CLE to ensure that important markets for our business community are served by nonstop flights.
As I hope you are aware, there’s good news to report. CLE air service, despite what may have been thought three years ago with the loss of the United hub, has shown a remarkable recovery. A major Hopkins renovation was finished in 2016, completed in time for the Republican National Convention.
More importantly, it is an investment in Cleveland that travelers can take advantage of for years to come.
The number of seats is just about the same as when the hub was here. Increases have come from traditional business carriers, as well as new CLE carriers. Available seat miles are now greater as larger planes are flying farther.
Since 2014, new nonstop service has been, or will be added this year to destinations including Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Charleston, Charlotte, Denver, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston Bush, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Portland, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington Reagan.
What’s behind this positive outcome?
First and foremost, Cleveland isn’t a pass-through market. There is strong demand for air service originating from Cleveland and from passengers who have Cleveland as their destination. As our momentum continues to build, so does market demand. We’re seeing that, if we can show airlines where the business community needs to travel, they respond.
Another plus is that with more airlines flying in and out of Hopkins, competition increases, and with that comes a decrease in ticket prices appreciated by both business and leisure travelers.
So what’s next?
Challenges remain to boost the frequency of flights to our most important U.S. business markets with scheduling conducive to business travel and adding nonstop service to some remaining priority destinations.
And we continue to explore international opportunities to key European hubs and beyond.
The bottom line is this: We have a strong market, and the numbers prove that airlines want to be here. ●
We want to be sure that we’re presenting a strong business community case, and we’d appreciate hearing from you. Based on your company’s needs, which U.S. markets need more or new nonstop service? Which international markets are important to your business? Please send your thoughts, comments and questions to [email protected]