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Cleveland Hopkins passenger traffic grows 5.5 percent to highest number in 10 years

January 15, 2019

Cleveland Hopkins passenger traffic grows 5.5 percent to highest number in 10 years

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Cleveland Hopkins International Airport welcomed 9.64 million passengers in 2018, a 5.5 percent increase over 2017 and the most since 2008, before the Great Recession hit.

And the airport is poised for more growth, according to Airport Director Robert Kennedy, who said predictions show the airport will exceed 10 million passengers in 2019.

“We’re looking for as many domestic direct destinations as we can get,” said Kennedy, at a press event Tuesday, announcing two new destinations from Allegiant Air.

Already this year, Frontier and Allegiant have announced four new routes (although Frontier dropped one destination, as well).

Related: Allegiant Air announces new flights from Cleveland to Norfolk, Virginia; Charleston, S.C.Frontier Airlines adding flights from Cleveland Hopkins to Charleston, S.C., San Francisco; dropping Portland

It’s more than new routes that are fueling the increase in passengers through Cleveland, said Kennedy. The airport is attracting a higher percentage of travelers from the Northeast Ohio region than it did several years ago.

In 2018, according to Kennedy, 91 percent of regional travelers chose to fly to or from Cleveland Hopkins. Five years ago, that percentage was 79 percent. A key reason for the increase in penetration: Fares have come down dramatically in Cleveland since the closure of the United Airlines hub in 2014, attracting travelers who previously might have driven to other, nearby airports for a cheaper flight.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the average fare in Cleveland was $318 for the second quarter in 2018, well below the national average of $349. In the second quarter of 2013, the average fare at Hopkins was $446, well above the national average of $378.

Among the side effects of Cleveland’s growth: Passenger traffic at the Akron-Canton Airport is down 15 percent through November 2018.

Kennedy said he and the airport’s air-service development team continue to push for new routes, including additional international service. He said he has had “serious conversations” recently with a carrier about a new international route, though he declined to name the airline or the destination.

Closer to home, he said, Kansas City remains Cleveland’s largest market unserved by any carrier.

Last year’s growth was fueled by both the addition of new carriers and increases in service by existing airlines.

Among the newcomers: Icelandair and Wow Air, two Iceland-based carriers that started flying from Cleveland in May. Wow has since eliminated service in Cleveland; Icelandair is scheduled to resume flying from Hopkins in May.

Cleveland Hopkins passenger traffic

2018: 9.64 million

2017: 9.14 million

2016: 8.42 million

2015: 8.10 million

2014: 7.61 million

2013: 9.07 million

2012: 9.01 million

2011: 9.18 million

2010: 9.49 million

2009: 9.72 million

2008: 11.11 million

2007: 11.46 million

2006: 11.32 million

2005: 11.46 million

2004: 11.26 million

2003: 10.56 million

2002: 10.80 million

2001: 11.86 million

2000: 13.29 million

Sources: Cleveland Hopkins International Airport