CLEVELAND -- Continental added flights to 17 new destinations from
its hub here this year, an indication of the success Cleveland
Hopkins Airport has enjoyed since opening a new runway and
revamping its administration in the latter half of 2002.
Continental had begun scaling back its Cleveland services in
2000 because of congestion at the airport, a spokesman for the
airline said. Then 9/11 led to further reductions.
However, the airport opened a 7,000-foot runway in December that
gave it the ability to handle an additional 25% in capacity. Within
a year, the airport expects to finish work that will extend the
runway to 9,000 feet and boost the additional capacity the airport
can handle to 40%.
Continental officials said the new runway, combined with demand
and the availability of smaller aircraft, has returned the airline
to eight of the routes it dropped and allowed for the addition of
"We're a hub-and-spoke airline, and Cleveland was lacking in the
number of spoke cities," said Karen Zachary, who as Continental's
managing director of route planning is responsible for new market
The availability of CommutAir, flying as Continental Connection
with 19-seat turboprops, also made adding markets more feasible.
Zachary described it as having the versatility to "right-size" the
aircraft with the demand.
CommutAir is flying in 10 of the 17 markets added this year.
The additions and use of smaller aircraft means Continental is
offering 249 departures on peak days, one shy of the number it
offered before 2001.
Continental isn't Hopkins Airport's only success story.
The airport also has attracted service from low-fare carrier USA
3000, which started flights out of Cleveland in December.
Other airlines have not added destinations, but many of them
have added flights for existing routes or increased capacity, an
airport spokeswoman said.
For that, the airport credits the new runway, which allows more
takeoffs and landings at the airport. By this time next year --
when the extension is completed and a precision runway monitor
system is in place -- simultaneous takeoffs and landings will be
The runway hasn't been the only addition at the airport.
John Mok, in charge of Cleveland's two airports (Burke Lakefront
Airport is the other) as the city's Department of Port Control
director, was hired in July 2002.
Mok came to the job after serving as vice president of planning
for Dallas/Fort Worth Airport and has been described as the first
"airport professional" to oversee the operation in more than a
Mok also hired other people with extensive airport experience,
including a chief financial officer, who refinanced and
restructured the airport's debt, the airport spokeswoman said.
The new CFO also worked to increase the airport's
nonaeronautical revenue -- with, for example, new stores and food
concessions -- to lessen the financial burden on airlines. More new
retail operations are expected at the airport soon.
To contact reporter Andrew Compart, send e-mail to [email protected].