Airfares at Cleveland Hopkins airport dropped about 20 percent last spring compared to 2014, and that could stem from United’s closure of its Cleveland hub. WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia reports.
It’s been almost two years since United Airlines announced it was closing its hub in Northeast Ohio, taking hundreds of jobs and a number of direct flights with it. Since then, low-cost airlines, such as Frontier and JetBlue, have looked to fill the void. The U.S. Department of Transportation says average fares at Hopkins have gone from $465 to $371. The rest of the nation’s airports saw a drop of only three percent. Kent State Economics Professor Lockwood Reynolds says the hub closure is almost totally responsible for the fare drop, but there is a downside.
“The real people who are getting hurt, if anyone’s getting ‘hurt’, is businesses who are much more likely to want to fly someone to one location [and] get there as fast as possible on a tight schedule. A lot of those flights, they’re harder to find now.”
Reynolds adds that Hopkins' dropping fares could present a challenge for Akron-Canton Airport. Many of the low-cost airlines moved north from Akron to expand in Cleveland.
“It’s true that Akron is still cheaper than Hopkins, but that price difference is getting smaller and smaller. And that’s going to be a challenge that Akron-Canton is going to face, going forward, in how to attract people to their airport instead of Hopkins when both of them are offering the same low-cost airlines.”
Passenger volume at Hopkins was up last year, with 2015 showing about a five percent increase over 2014.