Cleveland Airport No Longer a United Hub

The fallout of the consolidation of commercial airlines in the United States includes the removal of hub status from airports — and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is the latest casualty, as it is no longer a hub airport of United Airlines as of today.

As a result, today is the last day of employment for several hundred workers at the airport; Concourse D was locked down at midnight; and FlyerTalk members who are frequent fliers of United Airlines bid a sad farewell — especially as it was a relatively easy airport at which you can connect from one flight to another. Flights operated by United Airlines are now located solely at Concourse C.

“Yes, very sad”, lamented FlyerTalk member FlyerTom111. “I’ve seen it with other hub cities as well like Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Memphis etc.”

First reported by Gerry Wingenbach at The Tarmac with this article back in February, one supposed reason for the demise of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport as a hub for United Airlines is the increasing cost of operating regional jet aircraft. Many flights at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport were served by regional jet aircraft — even in the days when Continental Airlines operated Continental Express flights. Delta Air Lines has already begun to remove regional jet aircraft from its fleet — and many FlyerTalk members responded with the equivalent of “good riddance!”

Memphis International Airport lost its designation as an official hub for Delta Air Lines, which inherited it from Northwest Airlines after the merger of the two airlines, which was officially approved in 2008

…and similarly, United Airlines inherited Cleveland Hopkins International Airport from its merger with Continental Airlines in November of 2011.

Because of its lease obligating it to continue paying on the outstanding debt for Concourse D, United Airlines will continue to pay $1,112,482.00 per month until 2027, according to this article written by Alison Grant of The Plain Dealer newspaper which serves Cleveland.

You read that correctly: that is greater than one million dollars per month.

This means that the three remaining airlines — which tend to have a “hub-and-spoke” route structure — offer fewer connection options to travel from one airport to another.

Could that translate into a growth opportunity for airlines such as the new iteration of PEOPLExpress — which launched service yesterday — or further growth for airlines which mainly operate direct flights between underserved airports, such as Southwest Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Spirit Airlines, jetBlue Airways and Allegiant Air, which was the most profitable airline in the United States last year?

Could the “dehubbing” of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport by United Airlines eventually mean more mainline aircraft serving the airport instead of regional jet aircraft?

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