WASHINGTON: United Airlines says it will drop its money-losing flight hub in Cleveland, slashing its daily flights and eliminating 470 jobs.
The company’s CEO Jeff Smisek says in a letter to employees that the Cleveland hub has not been profitable in over a decade and has lost the company tens of millions of dollars in recent years.
“We simply cannot continue to bear these losses,” the letter says.
Beginning in April, Chicago-based United will begin phasing out Cleveland Hopkins International Airport as a connection for fliers coming from other airports around the country. As a result, its daily departures from the city will fall from 199 to 72 by June.
Similar cutbacks have affected other small hubs amid a wave of airline mergers in the past five years.
Houston-based Continental and United Airlines merged in October 2010. At the time, the new airline agreed to keep at least 90 percent of its United and Continental flights in Cleveland for two years after they combined.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson will hold a news conference Monday morning to discuss Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and air service by United Airlines.
The Plain Dealer reported that Smisek’s letter says the city has been supportive, “but the demand for hub-level connecting flying through Cleveland simply isn’t there. We must make the right business decisions, even when those decisions are painful.”
In addition to United, American Eagle, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, US Airways and Air Jazz Canada serve the airport, according to the website.