Fred Krum is 50, and it’s hard to believe he’s been working at the Akron-Canton Airport for 30 years and has been its director for the last 21. While some companies grow stagnant after five years of the same leadership, under Krum’s rule, the airport has broken its own passenger records as recently as January.
To put this accomplishment into perspective, business at the average U.S. airport was down 14 percent in January, while business at Akron-Canton Airport was up 7 percent.
“We’re way ahead of the pack,” Krum says.
He attributes CAK’s quick recovery from 9-11 to several factors. First, it is a relatively small airport (115th in the country) in a large market.
“The carriers (airlines) added capacity back here quicker here than with other airports,” he says. “We’re a secondary airport in a large metropolitan area, so they looked at that as a chance to get more passengers. We have the ability to take more passengers from all over Northeast Ohio. Part of it was the fares, but also there was a little more comfort level.”
He says the combination of low fares from carriers like AirTran and CAK’s size brought passengers back more quickly.
The obvious question now is, will these passengers stay loyal to CAK?
“Does that mean there’s a 50 percent switch in market share between Cleveland and here? No,” says Krum, “but if it’s a 3 to 5 percent, that’s significant for us.”
He says ultimately, the airport would be better off if 9-11 had never happened. In 2000, it was ranked by an independent research firm as the eighth fastest growing airport in the country. Krum thinks business would have been up more than 7 percent it was in January if the airport had been able to continue that growth record.
“In 2001, nobody grew. Every airport was down in 2001,” he says. “In September, we were off 35 percent. September and October were disasters. Every airport shrunk. Since then, we have come back far stronger than 95 percent of the airports in the country.”
How to reach: Akron-Canton Airport, (330) 896-2376