CLEVELAND — It’s no secret the past year has been a turbulent one for the airline industry. Passengers have been left stranded by flight cancellations and delays across the country and the trickle-down effect has had an impact on the number of passengers traveling through Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in 2022.
Roughly 8.7 million travelers passed through Hopkins last year, which is down from 2019.
“I'm not too terribly disappointed because there are some unusual, interesting circumstances this past year," said Deputy Chief of Marketing and Air Service Development, John Hogan. “I believe if the seats in the flights were there, we would definitely have exceeded our forecast to 9 million.”
In 2019, Cleveland Hopkins welcomed more than 10 million travelers, but the COVID-19 pandemic cut that number by more than half in 2020. Airport officials were hoping to see that number closer to 9 million in 2022, but lingering COVID concerns and holiday travel mishaps cut into those projections.
Hogan said it boils down to this: flights were full, there were just less of them in 2022. It’s a problem he sees the airlines rectifying in 2023 as they continue to face staffing shortages.
“The primary issue was airline capacity constraints, which basically equated to fewer flights, fewer seats out there,” said Hogan. “It really hit us during the busy summer months. But we weren't alone. It affected the entire industry.”
Cleveland Hopkins is servicing as many destinations as it did back in 2018, with plans of adding more soon. In May, Aer Lingus will launch a new, nonstop service between Cleveland and Dublin, Ireland. Meanwhile, Alaska Airlines plans to add additional flights to its new service line between Cleveland and Seattle that launched in 2022.
Hogan said next on his agenda is finding a carrier to connect passengers directly to San Diego via a non-stop flight.
“I'm currently speaking with airlines to see who might be interested in that route. Other cities like Milwaukee, I'd like to see reinstated. Another flight to San Francisco and a few more flights to LaGuardia and Washington National Airport is something that I'm focused on as well," he said.
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