The City of Cleveland addressed Monday the potential fallout of United Airlines' decision to reduce service at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.
It's a story that the Investigator Tom Meyer first reported over the weekend.
Mayor Frank Jackson says he's "disappointed with United's decision."
The airline says it will reduce its average daily departures from CLE by about 64% and eliminate 470 jobs.
Jackson says the city has worked over the last eight years to make Hopkins a competitive airport regardless of what happens in the airline industry.
He says despite United's decision, Cleveland Hopkins will continue to be an engine for growth for the city and region.
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Ricky Smith, director of the Cleveland Airport System, joined Mayor Jackson at the mid-morning Monday news conference.
Smith stressed that United's decision was not an indictment on Cleveland but more a reality of the changing nature of the airline industry which he says he more focused on international travel.
The cuts are permanent, Smith said.
"The idea of a hub is behind us. We will bounce back. We will get through this," said Director Smith.
Smith says United will reduces its average daily departures from 200 down to 72. The airline intends to maintain main line service to several major markets.
Among the markets still being served by United from CLE after the cuts are:
- Ft. Lauderdale
- Ft. Myers
- Las Vegas
- Los Angeles
- New York
- St. Louis
- San Francisco
- Washington, DC
Smith says the biggest cuts at Hopkins will be in regional jet flights that provide connecting service. Those flights will be eliminate in three phases beginning in April and lasting through June. Markets that will be eliminated by United from CLE include:
- Grand Rapids
- Kansas City
- Oklahoma City
The jobs being lost include 430 workers in operations and about 40 in United's catering services.
United will continue to use its maintenance facility in Cleveland.
Smith says Cleveland was one of the few remaining mid-market hubs remaining in the country. He says despite the cuts the airport will still have sufficient service for its passenger base.
Smith described Hopkins as a strong airport with a strong passenger demand.
The city plans to continue with its strategy to make Hopkins competitive. Mayor Jackson says United's decision opens up opportunity for other airlines. The city intends to pursue other carriers to help fill the flight schedule loss created by United's cuts. Director Smith, however, says he doesn't foresee a hub returning to Cleveland.
United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek sent a letter to employees explaining the decision by saying, "Our hub in Cleveland hasn't been profitable for over a decade, and has generated tens of millions of dollars of annual losses in recent years. We simply cannot continue to bear these losses."