Statement from Joe Roman, President and CEO,
Greater Cleveland Partnership, February 1, 2014
While this business decision by United is unfortunate, we have long recognized that this was one possible consequence of the United-Continental merger after witnessing similar outcomes in other markets through consolidation within the industry.
Fortunately, our airport and city are better positioned to attract additional service than they were at the time of the merger. The airport is improved, costs are down, we have more traffic-generating assets and the business community is mobilized and committed.
Because efficient air service benefits all of Greater Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, our goal is to minimize the impact on travelers and to ensure convenient and affordable air service here. Therefore, we will now mount an aggressive effort to replace as many lost routes as possible.
Working with the City of Cleveland, the State of Ohio and other partners, we are committed to a focused and dedicated effort over the coming months and years to attract additional air service. We have an engaged group of business leaders who have been working on the air service issue for three years and thoroughly understand the issues.
We will approach this opportunity like other opportunities we have faced before. We have a strong case to make, we have the resources and leaders necessary to drive the case, and we are committed to achieving our goal.
Why Cleveland continues to become an increasingly attractive air service market
A much-improved airport that is reducing costs to carriers. In the past eight years, over $1 billion has been invested in making Cleveland Hopkins International Airport a more efficient, customer-friendly airport with steadily decreasing operating costs. Major changes include additional runway, concessions, safety improvements and more. Plans for continued improvement include new parking options, better ground-transportation, a new on-site hotel and terminal modernization.
A high percentage of origination/destination passenger traffic. More than 60 percent of passengers on Hopkins flights are either beginning or ending their travel in Cleveland and will continue to provide a robust source of traffic for carriers at Hopkins. This is one of the most important benchmarks for any airline considering adding service, and our “O and D” traffic is higher than most other major airports.
- Billions in new development throughout the region that will increase air demand. The growing list of investments in around Cleveland, now totaling more than $17 billion, will continue to add economic vitality to the region and create traffic for air carriers. Some $2 billion of this development is directly related to tourism, including Cleveland Horseshoe Casino, the Cleveland Convention Center, the Global Center for Health Innovation and major new hotels. The Convention Center and Global Center alone are expected to attract tens of thousands of visitors annually and, by 2016, downtown will have added about 1,500 hotel rooms to accommodate them.
Continued infrastructure investment at Hopkins planned and funded. Recent investments in gates and baggage handling systems at Hopkins are in place and will benefit any airline that chooses to expand service.