Cleveland Hopkins International Airport
|Owner||City of Cleveland|
|Operator||Cleveland Airport System|
|Location||Hopkins, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.|
|Focus city for||Frontier Airlines|
FAA airport diagram
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (IATA: CLE, ICAO: KCLE, FAA LID: CLE) is an international airport in Cleveland, Ohio, United States. It is the primary airport serving Greater Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, the largest and busiest airport in the state, and the 43rd busiest airport in the U.S. by passenger numbers. Located in Cleveland's Hopkins neighborhood 9 miles (14 km) southwest of Downtown Cleveland, it is adjacent to the Glenn Research Center, one of NASA's ten major field centers.
The airport has been at the forefront of several innovations that are now commonplace. It was the first airport with an air traffic control tower and a two-terminal design separating arrivals from departures. It was also the first airport to be directly connected with a mass transit system.
Cleveland was a hub for United Airlines from the post-World War II era until the mid-1980s. After United moved its hub operations to Washington-Dulles, Continental Airlines opened a hub which made it the dominant carrier at the airport in the 1990s and 2000s. After United and Continental merged under the United brand in 2010, United closed the Cleveland hub, though it still has a flight attendant base, pilot base, and maintenance facilities at the airport, and is one of the largest carriers at the airport. United's hub closure created an opening for new airlines like Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines to enter the market. Within a few years after United closed the hub, passenger traffic rebounded to where it was before the closure.
Cleveland Hopkins offers non-stop passenger service to 54 destinations with 174 average daily departures. Cleveland Hopkins is operated by the Cleveland Department of Port Control, which also includes Burke Lakefront Airport located downtown. In 2018, Airports Council International ranked Cleveland Hopkins the most improved North American airport in the 2017 Airport Service Quality Survey.
Cleveland Hopkins is of particular importance to the history of commercial air travel due to a number of first-in-the-world innovations that would eventually become the global standard. Founded in 1925, it was one of the first municipality-owned facility of its kind in the United States. It was the site of the first air traffic control tower, the first ground-to-air radio control system, and the first airfield lighting system, all in 1930; and it was the first U.S. airport to be directly connected to a local or regional rail transit system, in 1968. It was also the first airport to employ a two-level terminal design separating arrivals from departures. The airport was named after its founder, former city manager William R. Hopkins, on his 82nd birthday in 1951.
United Airlines established its easternmost domestic hub in Cleveland after World War II, which it maintained until the mid-1980s, when it closed its Cleveland hub and moved capacity to a new hub at Washington-Dulles. Following the closure of the United hub, Continental Airlines (which at the time was a separate carrier and lacked a Midwest hub) responded by adding capacity to Cleveland, as did USAir, which was the dominant carrier at the airport from 1987 until the early 1990s. While USAir soon reduced its schedule from Cleveland, Continental substantially increased its hub capacity, becoming the airport's largest tenant and eventually accounting for upwards of 60 percent of passenger traffic. Continental and the airport both made substantial operational and capital investments in the airport's infrastructure. In 1992, the airport completed a $50 million renovation of Concourse C, which housed all of Continental's flights. The renovation included the installation of a continuous skylight, a Continental President's Club lounge, and a new Baggage Claim area. In 1999, the airport completed an $80 million expansion that included the construction of the new Concourse D (now closed), which was built to accommodate Continental Express and Continental Connection flights.
Continental Airlines launched daily seasonal flights to London's Gatwick Airport in June 1999, Cleveland's first transatlantic service. The airline also flew to Paris in summer 2008 but terminated the route due to economic concerns. The following year, Continental stated that the London connection, which by then had switched to Heathrow Airport, would not return in 2010. The carrier pointed to the recession and an inability to obtain affordable seasonal slots at Heathrow as reasons behind its decision. At the same time, an article in The Plain Dealer suggested additional factors were at play, such as the notion that rising collaboration between Continental and United Airlines meant passengers could transit through the latter's Chicago hub instead. The departure of the last Boeing 757 for London left the Ohio city without a direct link to Europe for the next several years.
In 2010, Continental and United Airlines announced that they would merge operations. The merger prompted concerns that a post-merger United would reduce or close its hub in Cleveland and instead route passengers through the new United's nearby hubs at O'Hare Airport in Chicago and Dulles Airport in Washington. On November 10, 2010, Continental CEO Jeff Smisek stated in a speech in Cleveland that "Cleveland needs to earn its hub status every day" and added that overall profitability would be the determining factor in whether the new United kept or closed the Cleveland hub.
United continued to reduce its capacity in Cleveland following the merger, which already had been substantially reduced in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. On February 1, 2014, United announced that the airline would shut down its Cleveland hub, stating as justification that the airline's hub at Cleveland "hasn't been profitable for over a decade." By June 5, 2014, United Airlines effectively terminated its hub operation at the airport, reducing its daily departures by more than 60%. United also closed Concourse D and consolidated all of its remaining operations in Concourse C, although it is required to continue to pay the airport $1,112,482 a month in rent for the facility until 2027.
The airport initially experienced a sharp decline in passenger counts following the closure of United's hub in 2014. Several other airlines, however, increased their service to Cleveland in subsequent years. Frontier Airlines significantly increased its service to the airport and declared Cleveland a focus city. Other low-cost airlines such as Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air began new service to the airport as well, and existing airlines such as American, Delta, and Southwest also increased their number of daily flights and destinations. As a result, by 2017, the airport's passenger count exceeded levels achieved during the last full year that United maintained a hub in Cleveland.
Despite the closure of its hub, as of 2017 United still maintained roughly 1,200 employees in Greater Cleveland, including a flight attendant and pilot base as well as maintenance facilities. United also remains the largest carrier at Hopkins, serving 17 destinations with close to 60 peak day departures. Regional airline CommutAir, which flies exclusively on behalf of United Express, is headquartered in nearby North Olmsted.
Icelandair and WOW air reconnected Cleveland with Europe in May 2018, inaugurating flights to Reykjavik. Nevertheless, both airlines had left Northeast Ohio by 2019. WOW air had been suffering financially, while Icelandair faced the grounding of the aircraft it operated to Cleveland and potentially the low profitability of the service.
Cleveland Hopkins consists of one two-level passenger terminal, which was completed in 1978, and renovated in 2016. There are four concourses, three of which are currently in use.
Gates A1, A3, A7, A9,& A11 are used by Allegiant Air. Gates A2, A7, and occasionally A6 are used by Spirit. Gates A8, A10, & A12 are used by Frontier. Gate A14 is the international arrivals gate. Gates A4 & A5 are rarely used.
Gates C2, C3, C4, C5, C7, C8, C9, C10, C11, & C14 are used by American. American's primary gates are C3, C5, C7, C9, & C11. However, for overflow and from time to time they will use C4, C8, C10, & C14. Gates C4 & C6 are used by JetBlue. Gates C17, C18, C19, C21, C22, C23, C24, C25, C26, C27, & C29 are used by United. Gate C20 is used by Air Canada. Gates C16 & C28 aren't in use.
Cleveland Airmall, a unit of Fraport USA, manages the retail and dining locations at the airport. Tenants include Johnston & Murphy, Great Lakes Brewing Company, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum Store, Bar Symon, and Sunglass Hut.
The airport has two lounges: a United Club in Concourse C and an Airspace Lounge near the entrance to Concourse B in the Main Terminal. The Club CLE is slated to open in concourse C in September 2021.
Rental car operations are located at a consolidated rental car facility off the airport property. Shuttle services are provided between the airport and the facility.
|Allegiant Air|| Punta Gorda (FL), Sarasota, Savannah, St. Petersburg/Clearwater|
Seasonal: Charleston (SC), Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Jacksonville (FL), Myrtle Beach, Nashville, Norfolk, Orlando/Sanford
|American Airlines|| Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami |
Seasonal: Philadelphia, Phoenix-Sky Harbor
|American Eagle||Charlotte, Chicago-O'Hare, Miami, New York-JFK, New York-LaGuardia, Philadelphia, Washington-National|||
|Delta Air Lines|| Atlanta, Detroit, Salt Lake City |
Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul
|Delta Connection||Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York-JFK, New York-LaGuardia|||
|Frontier Airlines|| Cancún, Denver, Fort Myers, Las Vegas, Miami, Orlando, Phoenix-Sky Harbor, Sarasota, Tampa|
Seasonal: Atlanta, Charleston (SC), Raleigh/Durham
|JetBlue|| Boston, Fort Lauderdale|
Seasonal: Fort Myers
| Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago-Midway, Denver, Fort Myers, Las Vegas, Nashville, Orlando, Phoenix-Sky Harbor, St. Louis, Tampa|
Seasonal: Fort Lauderdale, Sarasota
|Spirit Airlines|| Atlanta, Cancún, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami (begins November 17, 2021), New Orleans, Orlando, Tampa|
Seasonal: Dallas/Fort Worth, Myrtle Beach
|United Airlines|| Cancún, Chicago-O'Hare, Denver, Fort Myers, Houston-Intercontinental, Los Angeles, Newark, Orlando, San Francisco, Washington-Dulles|
Seasonal: Fort Lauderdale, Tampa
|United Express|| Chicago-O'Hare, Houston-Intercontinental, Nassau (begins December 18, 2021), Newark, Washington-Dulles|
Seasonal: Charleston (SC), Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach, Orlando, Pensacola, Portland (ME)
|Castle Aviation||Akron/Canton, Columbus-Rickenbacker, Hamilton|
|FedEx Express|| Columbus-Rickenbacker, Greensboro, Indianapolis, Memphis, Newark |
Seasonal: Buffalo, Flint, Rochester
|UPS Airlines|| Chicago/Rockford, Greensboro, Louisville |
Seasonal: Boston, Columbus-Rickenbacker, Hartford, Peoria, Philadelphia, Ontario, CA
|Western Global Airlines||Louisville|
|1||Orlando, Florida||244,000||Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United|
|2||Atlanta, Georgia||241,000||Delta, Southwest, Spirit|
|3||Denver, Colorado||166,000||Frontier, Southwest, United|
|4||Chicago-O'Hare, Illinois||152,000||American, United|
|5||Charlotte, North Carolina||142,000||American|
|6||Fort Myers, Florida||137,000||Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, United|
|7||Fort Lauderdale, Florida||135,000||Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, United|
|8||Tampa, Florida||114,000||Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United|
|9||Las Vegas, Nevada||111,000||Frontier, Southwest, Spirit|
|10||Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas||104,000||American, Spirit|
In May 2015, the airport moved the pick-up and drop off location for most shuttles to the former limo lot, requiring most passengers to take two escalators underneath the former shuttle parking in the arrivals lane at the airport. Originally meant to be a temporary fix, the airport made the Ground Transportation Center a permanent fixture in May 2017. This angered many travelers, who complained on various social media platforms, as well as local media outlets, garnering negative publicity for the airport's plans. In March 2019, the pick ups and drop offs location for most of the shuttles (except for limo shuttles) have moved to the north end of the baggage claim level.
In May 2013, the airport demolished its aging, 2,600-space Long Term Garage, replacing it with a 1,000 space surface lot for $24M. This in turn created a parking shortage, and daily lot closings when parking lots would become full. The airport's Twitter account became a daily update of parking closures at the airport. The airport converted the Short Term Garage to a so-called Smart Garage, and valet parking garage. The airport eliminated its free half-hour courtesy parking perk, and began to charge $3 for a half-hour.