Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (IATA: CLE, ICAO: KCLE, FAA LID: CLE) is a public airport located nine miles (14 km) southwest of the central business district of Cleveland, a city in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, United States. The airport lies just within the city limits of Cleveland. It is the largest airport in the state of Ohio and as of 2009 is the 39th largest airport in North America.
The airport was founded in 1925, making it the first municipally owned airport in the United States. The airport has been the site of many other airport firsts: the first air traffic control tower, ground to air radio control and the first airfield lighting system, all in 1930, and the first U.S. airport to be directly connected to a local or regional rail transit system, in 1968. The airport was named after its founder, former city manager William R. Hopkins, on his 82nd birthday in 1951.
The airport handled 9,715,604 passengers in 2009, representing a 12.5% decrease compared to 2008; the passenger decline at Hopkins was 5th steepest among the 50 largest airports in the USA. There were 200,268 operations (takeoffs and landings) in 2009. The airport handles more than 325 daily nonstop flights to over 85 destinations. It is the third largest hub for Continental Airlines and its regional carriers ExpressJet, Chautauqua, and CommutAir, which operates its largest hub from the airport. Following Continental's merger with United Airlines, the airport will become the smallest of the combined airline's eight mainland U.S. hubs in terms of passenger boardings (though busier than Guam). Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, along with Cleveland Burke Lakefront Airport comprise the Cleveland Airport System operated by the city of Cleveland's Department of Port Control.
In 2006, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport unveiled a new marketing and branding campaign. The slogan, "CLE Going Places", is said to depict the airport's pursuit of improving passengers' experience as they upgrade the airport facility and negotiate additional air services. Improvements include upgrades to the restaurant and store concessions program, taxi service, on-site parking, customer service areas, and the attraction of additional flights to new destinations with the airport's new air service development program (begun in 2007).
North American international service
Air Canada offers daily non-stop flights to Toronto via its regional affiliate, Air Canada Jazz. Air Canada is currently the only foreign-flag carrier to serve Cleveland on a regular basis.
Continental offers service to Cancún and seasonal service to Québec City, which use the U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspection facility upon arrival. Continental also offers several daily flights to Toronto and Montréal, along with seasonal service to Nassau.
USA3000 Airlines offers international service to Cancún and Punta Cana.
Aeromexico operated charter flights to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico during the 2007–2008 winter season.
There is presently no intercontinental service from Cleveland. However, there have been several past short-lived attempts to establish intercontinental service from the airport since the airport was first granted authority to receive intercontinental service in 1977.
Circa 1982-1986, JAT Yugoslav Airlines operated once-weekly non-stop flights to Ljubljana, Slovenia, continuing on to Belgrade.
From 1988 to 1992, JAT Yugoslav Airlines operated once-weekly service to Belgrade, the largest city in what was then the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Upon the break-up of Yugoslavia and UN sanctions that followed, JAT service was suspended, leaving Cleveland without transatlantic, non-stop flights for nearly eight years until Continental Airlines began flights to London in 1999.
Continental Airlines began offering seasonal nonstop flights from Hopkins to London Gatwick Airport in 1999. This service continued for several summers, and in 2009, Continental switched to Heathrow Airport instead of Gatwick because of the airline's new access to Heathrow as part of the EU–U.S. Open Skies Agreement. However, this service was cancelled permanently because of insufficient passenger bookings.
Continental launched a new route between Cleveland and Paris, France on May 22, 2008, but then announced elimination of the service in December 2008. The service has not been resurrected in subsequent summers.
Facilities and concourses
Satellite view of the airport
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport covers an area of 1,900 acres (769 ha) which contains three runways:
Runway 6R/24L: 9,955 x 150 ft. (3,034 x 46 m), concrete
Runway 6L/24R: 9,000 x 150 ft. (2,743 x 46 m), concrete
Runway 10/28: 6,017 x 150 ft. (1,834 x 46 m), asphalt and concrete
The older parallel runway, formerly designated Runway 6C/24C, is 7,096 x 150 ft. (2163 x 46 m). Its ends are prominently marked with lighted "X" signs to prevent its inadvertent use, as it has now been decommissioned as an active runway.
For the 12-month period ending December 31, 2007, the airport had 244,717 aircraft operations, an average of 670 per day: 65% air taxi, 29% scheduled commercial, 5% general aviation and <1% military. There are 44 aircraft based at this airport: 21 jet, 10 single engine, 7 multi-engine and 6 military aircraft.
Since 2008, BAA Cleveland has developed and managed retail and dining locations at the airport. A redevelopment project will add 76,000 square feet (7,100 m2) of new locations.
An American Eagle counter at gate A3 in concourse A
Hopkins airport is known for its fanciful giant "paper" airplane sculptures located in the underground walkway between Concourses C and D.
Cleveland Airport consists of one passenger terminal which is divided into four concourses:
Concourse A (gates A1-A12, A14), originally known as "North Concourse", was the first of the airport's original two concourses and was built in 1962.
Concourse B (gates B1-B11) was the first extension pier to the airport and was built in 1966.
Concourse C (gates C1–C12, C14, and C16–C29) houses all mainline Continental Airlines services, except for international arrivals which are handled in Concourse A instead. The concourse (being the third-oldest one) was originally known as "South Concourse" when it opened in 1968. Until 1985, it was one of the main hub operations for United Airlines. United slowly cut flights from Hopkins as it built a new hub at Washington Dulles International Airport. By 1987, United had closed its hub at Hopkins and moved its operations to the B Concourse. Continental Airlines quickly established a hub in Cleveland to fill the void left by United. However, with the pending merger of Continental and United, as well as Continental joining the Star Alliance, United as well as Air Canada Jazz have since relocated their Cleveland operations to Concourse C.
Concourse D (gates D2–D12, D14, D17, D21, D25, and D28) was constructed in 1999 and is a separate terminal connected to the main terminal by an underground walkway. Although capable of handling larger jets such as Continental's Boeing 737, it currently handles regional aircraft exclusively. Concourse D contains 12 jet bridge gates and 24 ramp loading positions.
Airlines and destinations
Airlines Destinations Concourse
Air Canada Jazz Toronto-Pearson C
American Airlines Dallas/Fort Worth [begins April 5] A
American Eagle Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth [ends April 4], Miami, New York-JFK, New York-LaGuardia A
Continental Airlines Boston, Cancún, Chicago-O'Hare, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Houston-Intercontinental, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Newark, New York-LaGuardia, Orlando, Phoenix, San Francisco, Tampa
Seasonal: Miami, San Diego, San Juan, Seattle/Tacoma, West Palm Beach C
Continental Connection operated by Colgan Air Albany, Baltimore, Chicago-O'Hare, Raleigh/Durham, Washington-National [begins April 4] D
Continental Connection operated by CommutAir Buffalo, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, Columbus (OH), Dayton, Erie, Flint, Grand Rapids, Harrisburg, Indianapolis, Madison, Pittsburgh, South Bend, Syracuse, Toronto-Pearson, Washington-Dulles D
Continental Connection operated by Gulfstream International Airlines Bradford, DuBois, Franklin, Jamestown, Lewisburg (WV), Parkersburg D
Continental Express operated by Chautauqua Airlines Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago-O'Hare, Columbus (OH), Hartford, Indianapolis, Louisville, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New Orleans, New York-LaGuardia, Philadelphia, Providence, Raleigh/Durham, St. Louis, Washington-Reagan C, D
Continental Express operated by ExpressJet Airlines Albany, Atlanta, Boston, Burlington (VT), Charlotte, Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Dayton, Grand Rapids, Green Bay, Greenville/Spartanburg, Hartford, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Knoxville, Louisville, Madison, Manchester (NH), Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Montréal-Trudeau, New Orleans, New York-LaGuardia, Norfolk, Philadelphia, Providence, Raleigh/Durham, Richmond, Rochester (NY), Syracuse, Toronto-Pearson, Washington-National
Seasonal: Albuquerque, Fort Myers, Jacksonville (FL), Nassau, Orlando, Portland (ME), Québec City, Tampa, West Palm Beach C, D
Delta Air Lines Atlanta B
Delta Connection operated by Atlantic Southeast Airlines Atlanta, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky B
Delta Connection operated by Chautauqua Airlines Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, Detroit B
Delta Connection operated by Comair Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York-JFK B
Delta Connection operated by Compass Airlines Detroit B
Delta Connection operated by Mesaba Airlines Detroit B
Delta Connection operated by Pinnacle Airlines Atlanta, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York-JFK B
Frontier Airlines operated by Chautauqua Airlines Milwaukee A
Southwest Airlines Baltimore, Chicago-Midway, Las Vegas, Nashville, St. Louis [ends March 11]
Seasonal: Orlando B
United Airlines Chicago-O'Hare, Denver [begins February 17] C
United Express operated by ExpressJet Airlines Chicago-O'Hare, Washington-Dulles C
United Express operated by SkyWest Airlines Atlanta [begins February 17], Boston [begins February 17], Chicago-O'Hare, Denver, Milwaukee [begins March 6], Washington-National [begins February 17] C
USA3000 Airlines Cancún, Chicago-O'Hare, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, Fort Myers, Punta Cana A
US Airways Charlotte A
US Airways Express operated by Air Wisconsin Philadelphia A
US Airways Express operated by Chautauqua Airlines Philadelphia A
US Airways Express operated by Mesa Airlines Charlotte A
US Airways Express operated by PSA Airlines Charlotte A
US Airways Express operated by Republic Airlines Charlotte, Philadelphia A
Top Ten Busiest Domestic Routes Out of Hopkins International Airport
(November 2009 - October 2010)
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Chicago, IL (O'Hare) 321,000 American Eagle, Continental, United
2 Houston, TX 260,000 Continental
3 Las Vegas, NV 220,000 Continental, Southwest
4 Chicago, IL (Midway) 214,000 Southwest
5 Charlotte, NC 194,000 Continental Express, US Airways
6 Atlanta, GA 172,000 Continental Express, Delta
7 Baltimore, MD 170,000 Continental, Southwest
8 Newark, NJ 146,000 Continental
9 Los Angeles, CA 145,000 Continental
10 Philadelphia, PA 143,000 Continental Express, US Airways Express
Airport welcome sign.
Hopkins International Airport is connected to the Cleveland Rapid Transit system. Passengers can board Red Line trains at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (RTA Rapid Transit station) airport terminal. During late night/early morning hours, service is provided by the # 75 bus from Hopkins to Downtown Cleveland.
In 1998, Hopkins moved rental car operations off the airport grounds to a new consolidated rental car center. The facility has drawn mixed reviews from travelers because of its distance from the airport, inconsistent bus service, and fees and taxes that are very high relative to those of other airports; the charges cover costs of not only operating the center but also supporting other local projects, such as the Cleveland Browns stadium.
Incidents and accidents
In 1971 Jane Fonda was arrested by police at the airport for being belligerent and obstructing public safety because she refused to go through security screening. After an increase in aviation related skyjackings, the FAA had in 1969 ordered all airports to use metal detectors.
On January 4, 1985 Pan Am flight 558, a Boeing 727, was scheduled to fly from Cleveland to New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport. While still on the ground at Cleveland, the aircraft was hijacked and the hijacker demanded to be taken to South America. The plane was stormed by Cleveland police and the hijacker arrested. The duration of the hijacking was less than one day.
On January 6, 2003, a Continental Express Embraer ERJ-145LR overran the runway upon landing from Bradley International Airport in Hartford, CT. After touchdown, the flight crew was unable to stop the airplane on the runway. The airplane continued beyond the departure end, on extended runway centerline, and struck the ILS runway 6 localizer antenna. It came to rest with the nose about 600 feet (180 m) beyond the end of the runway. The nose landing gear had collapsed rearward and deformed the forward pressure bulkhead.
On April 27, 2006 police officers confronted a man at the United Airlines ticket counter. The man fired a handgun, critically wounding a patrolman, but another officer shot and killed the attacker.
On February 18, 2007, at 3:14pm, a Shuttle America Embraer 170 operating as Delta Connection flight 6448 from Atlanta skidded off snow-covered runway 28 and crashed through a fence. None of the 70 passengers and four crew on board were injured.
On January 10, 2010, the airport lost power for more than seven hours after a transformer exploded at about 6:50am. All power inside the terminals was lost and air traffic was halted; however the control tower, runways, and taxiways remained lit, powered by backup generators. About 800 people were affected by the loss of power, and most flights didn't resume until 3:00pm. According to a spokesperson, the transformer exploded due to a buildup of road salt, causing corrosion.
Relationship with Continental Airlines and the Post-CO/UA Merger United Airlines
Continental Airlines, the largest tenant at Cleveland Hopkins, handles roughly 60% of all passenger traffic through the airport. Continental and Hopkins have both made substantial investments in support of Continental's presence at the airport, including the 1999 construction of Concourse D, primarily to accommodate Continental Express flights. However, Cleveland clearly has remained the airline's third-tier hub behind George Bush Intercontinental Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport.
The airport, Cleveland community, and Continental have had something of an uneasy relationship for several years. In 2003, Continental CEO Gordon Bethune publicly scolded the Cleveland business community and encouraged business flyers to support Hopkins rather than to take cheaper fights from neighboring Akron-Canton Airport, which advertises itself as the "preferred alternative" to Hopkins and "a better way to go," and which is undertaking an ambitious expansion in response to substantial increases in enplanements while Hopkins boardings have declined. Shortly thereafter, Continental reduced the size of its board of directors by halving the number of representatives from the Cleveland area, began to closely scrutinize local passenger traffic volume, and closed its four off-airport ticket offices in the Greater Cleveland area (while maintaining offices near its Houston and Newark hubs). In March 2009, Continental CEO Larry Kellner omitted Cleveland but referenced Newark and Houston when commenting on the carrier's strengths: "We are strong in the Atlantic, we are strong in Latin America, we are strong in New York, we're strong in Houston."
Unlike Continental's other hubs (EWR, IAH, GUM) or those of merger partner United Airlines (ORD, LAX, SFO, IAD, DEN, NRT), Continental's Cleveland operation has only a handful of flights to any international cities (in Mexico and Canada), has not been able to sustain year-round service from the airport to Europe or other trans-oceanic destinations, handles an overwhelming majority (83% as of June 2009) of its traffic via Continental Express regional jet or propeller-driven/turboprop aircraft rather than mainline jets (e.g., in Continental's case, its Boeing jets), and does not serve the airport with any twin-aisle, wide-body aircraft (e.g., in the case of Continental, its Boeing 767 or Boeing 777 planes).
On September 14, 2007, Continental announced what was at the time called a "major expansion" at Hopkins that would have increased the hub's capacity by some 40% over a two-year period. The expansion would have entailed some 20 new destinations served primarily on regional aircraft, followed later by a dozen new destinations served on mainline aircraft. This expansion was to have created 700 jobs, and the state of Ohio offered a $16 million incentive package to help make the service increase happen. However, when record-high fuel prices forced Continental to cut capacity in the summer of 2008, the airline reduced its workforce, eliminated service between Cleveland and 24 cities (including 12 cities that were part of Phase I of its hub expansion program), and reduced the frequency of its flights to a number of others; the service cuts in Cleveland were deeper as a percentage of overall flight volume than concurrent cuts at Continental's Houston and Newark hubs. In March 2009, Continental indicated that it would continue to make capacity cuts in response to reduced demand for seats. Continental passenger boardings in Cleveland have declined 22% since the year 2000.
On July 10, 2009, the US Department of Transportation approved Continental's membership in Star Alliance (it had been a member of SkyTeam with Northwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines) and most aspects of the code-share agreement it had requested with United and other Star Alliance members (e.g. Lufthansa). Then, on October 1, 2010, United and Continental officially completed the legal aspects of a full merger. The merger only heightened ongoing concerns within the greater Cleveland area about the potential effect on Cleveland air service; Continental's previous merger talks with Star Alliance founding partner United were viewed in some circles as a serious threat to Continental's future at Hopkins. When the 2010 United/Continental tie-up was initially announced, it prompted Cleveland politicians to propose hearings to investigate the potential impact of the marriage on the community; these investigations ultimately had no effect on the companies' efforts to combine.
There are ongoing concerns that a post-merger United will reduce or eliminate direct service from Cleveland to a number of cities and instead route passengers through United's hubs in Chicago (315 miles west by air) and Washington (287 air miles east by air). The new company, United Continental Holdings, Inc., signed a letter of agreement with Cleveland officials stipulating what service levels will be maintained at Hopkins for five years, but it has been criticized as weak, vague, and having loopholes that the airline can exploit if it chooses to reduce service before the agreement expires. For example, the agreement dictates a certain number of flights but does not stipulate the type of aircraft used to operate them, which would allow the company potentially to substitute mainline Boeing jets with propeller-driven aircraft such as the Saab 340 (with 34 seats) or the Beechcraft 1900 (with 19 seats). Moreover, the agreement hinges largely on United's profitability on routes to and from Cleveland, which might be subject to variation depending on how United assigns costs. Finally, the potential $20 million penalty for violating the agreement is a relatively minor amount for a company the size of United Continental Holdings, with 2010 revenue of $29 billion. Terms of the agreement are as follows:
For the first two years after the merger (i.e. until October 1, 2012):
The new United must maintain at least 90 percent, or 170, of the 189 average daily departures that the two airlines had at Cleveland Hopkins in the year before their combination.
During the remainder of the five year agreement (i.e. until October 1, 2015):
United's average daily departure obligation decreases to 67 percent of pre-merger strength -- or 127 departures -- in the event that "segment profitability" at Hopkins is more than 15 percent worse than the network as a whole, with annual losses in Cleveland of more than $25 million.
If segment profitability is more than $40 million in the red during the second year, minimum departures in year three can fall to 45 percent of pre-merger levels, or 85 average daily departures. The minimum in years four and five can fall to 14 percent of pre-merger departures, or 26 departures a day.
If United's Cleveland operations lose more than $40 million in years three or four, then the 14 percent rule applies.
If the Cleveland operations are losing money and more than 25 percent worse than United's network as a whole, United can walk away from the agreement entirely and can cut service as deeply as it deems necessary.
These and other factors, such as the cost of operations at Hopkins, have led to speculation in news reports that the airport's hub status might eventually be further diminished or lost altogether, as has been the case with each of the metropolitan airports closest to Cleveland (with the exception of Detroit):
the former US Airways hubs at Pittsburgh International Airport and at Dayton International Airport
the former America West Airlines and Skybus hubs at Port Columbus International Airport
the Delta Air Lines hub at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, which has seen a substantial reduction in flight volume and has as a result shut down an entire terminal.
the former American Trans Air hub at Indianapolis International Airport
the former TWA and American Airlines hub at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport
If Continental de-hubbed in Cleveland, it would not be the airline's first experience radically scaling back in a hub city; Continental abandoned its hub at Stapleton International Airport in Denver when Denver International Airport was built. It would also not be the first time that Cleveland lost an airline hub; ironically, United maintained a substantial hub at Hopkins before relocating it to Washington Dulles International Airport in the late 1980s as Cleveland's prominence as a business center began its decline.
In an article about the Continental-United merger, the Wall Street Journal reported on May 3, 2010, that "One city that could feel the pinch from the latest consolidation is Cleveland, a small Continental hub. Analysts say that a combined United-Continental could shift more connecting traffic to Chicago, United's largest hub. Delta has continued to scale back flights at its small Cincinnati hub since it acquired Northwest, which had hubs in nearby Memphis and Detroit."
Continental CEO Jeff Smisek stated in a speech in Cleveland on November 10, 2010 that "Cleveland needs to earn its hub status every day" and added that overall profitability would be the determining factor in whether the new United kept or shuttered the Cleveland operation.
Should the new United elect to close its Cleveland hub, Cleveland would have the dubious distinction of being the only U.S. airport to be "de-hubbed" twice by the same airline.
When Continental and United complete their merger, the new airline will combine the United name in a sans-serif font reminiscent of United's present font with the globe from the Continental logo that is so familiar to Cleveland Hopkins Airport travelers.