United Airlines announces cuts to 60 percent of Cleveland departures

Slashes to impact travel to smaller, non-hub cities

Mike McKenna, News Editor

Case Western Reserve University community members from select cities will soon have a tougher time traveling to and from campus.

This weekend, United Airlines told its employees that Cleveland Hopkins International Airports will lose its “hub” status in the coming months, slashing departing flights by around 60 percent.

CWRU travel services manager Michael Kurutz called the impact of the hub closure a “mixed bag.” He emphasized that those who need to travel to destinations near other cities with United hubs, including Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and Newark, will not see much in terms of a change, but those trying to reach non-hub smaller cities such as Madison, Indianapolis, Louisville or even New Orleans might face some serious travel tribulations. Currently CWRU spends $5 million annually on air travel, choosing United for around 65 percent of flights.

Kurutz says that for many Midwestern travelers, driving will have to be considered since layovers in a hub city could result in travel times as long as just simply taking the highway.
“[The hub closure] is very, very disappointing, but was expected,” Kurutz said, later adding, “They weren’t making money on the transit traffic.”

In a letter first acquired by The Plain Dealer, Jeff Smisek, chairman of United’s Board and the airline’s president and chief executive officer, told Cleveland employees that the hub “hasn’t been profitable for a decade, and has generated tens of millions of dollars of annual losses in recent years.”

Flights will be cut primarily from the D Concourse. Smisek has said that United’s departures from Cleveland will drop from a daily average of 199 to only 72 by June. The cuts are expected to start taking place in April.