HEBRON, Ky. - United Airlines has added 17 new flights a week at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport, but is dropping two daily flights to Cleveland.
Airport spokeswoman Meghan Glynn told The Kentucky Enquirer the move is a "great sign" although officials are aware that any rebound will take time.
"It will continue to be an incremental evolution for us," Glynn said.
United is increasing the number of daily weekday flights it offers to Newark Liberty International Airport from four to six per day and increasing the number of weekday flights to Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport from three to four a day. Two other weekend flights also are being added. Glynn said the additional flights are in response to requests from the business community for increased service to the New York metropolitan area and Houston.
Also, daily flights to Europe originate from Newark, while Houston offers international flights daily to Mexico and South America.
"Both Houston and Newark are popular business destinations," said Ellen van der Horst, president of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. "This is good news for the business community and the entire region."
The flights being stopped on July 31 relates to the airline downsizing at Cleveland's Hopkins International Airport.
United Airlines' announcement, made Thursday, comes amid a downsizing of airport operations that business and community leaders warn is hurting the region's ability to attract and keep major companies and jobs.
Daily peak departures at the airport have dropped from as many as 673 in 2005 to around 200 today. Nonstop service to Europe is down to one destination, Paris, from five in 2005. A cutback in flights by dominant carrier Delta Air Lines is primarily the reason.
The news of United's increased service comes just two weeks after airport officials unveiled a newly renovated, $36.5 million Concourse A.
"This is a sign that United saw an opportunity to make some headway as a result of Delta reducing its presence," said Daniel Friedenzohn, associate professor of aeronautical science at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla. "Because of Delta's cutbacks, the demand is there."
United is among four airlines that moved from the outdated Terminal 2 to Concourse A on May 15. Glynn said the newly renovated concourse provided incentive for United to expand its service. The airline will continue to use three gates.
As part of its reinvention process, CVG continues to pursue recruiting a low-cost carrier actively.
United's expanded services could hurt those recruiting efforts, because, for example, Southwest flies to Newark and Houston (Hobby International Airport), and JetBlue serves Newark.
"This probably doesn't make it any easier for them to land a low-cost carrier, if you take a look at the competitive landscape," Friedenzohn said.
Here is a statement released by United Airlines Friday afternoon:
"Yesterday’s third-party comment about United downsizing at its Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) hub is inaccurate. Cleveland is one of United’s 10 hubs and an important part of our network. We continue working closely with area business leaders and the city to provide a viable and sustainable future for Cleveland air service.
"These comments stem from the announcement that United plans to end service between Cleveland and Cincinnati. This service was not performing well financially when looking at the cost to offer the service compared to revenue performance, especially in this era of volatile jet fuel prices. It’s a normal course of business to reallocate flying at any particular hub. For example, United’s additional flights in CLE thus far this year include service to: Boston, Denver, Dallas-Fort Worth, Washington Dulles, Chicago O’Hare, Portland (Maine), San Francisco, and St. Louis."
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