I never understood Cleveland as a hub, even if it was a ‘regional jet hub’ with a handful of Boeing 737 flights thrown in.
It’s just not the major business destination you want that can support lots of full fare traffic. Regional jet-to-regional jet connections certainly aren’t that attractive from a flyer’s perspective. And now that United and Continental have merged it is somewhat duplicative of the airline’s massive Chicago O’Hare hub operation. There’s no reason to shuttle traffic through Cleveland on a daily basis when you’re doing the same thing 315 miles away.
Nonetheless, when airlines merge they always promise to continue serving all of the cities they currently do, and tell those cities that are hubs that they will remain so. Only it doesn’t work that day. Just ask the folks in Cincinnati and in Memphis whether they retained their previous level of flights after Northwest and Delta merged.
I’m not saying that the airlines should continue to maintain hubs at those levels, strategic needs for an airline change with a merger and cities themselves change their characteristics such that a hub may no longer make sense. American made the strategic blunder in acquiring St. Louis when it bought TWA out of bankruptcy. St. Louis just isn’t the important city it once was and can’t support the sort of airline operation it did decades ago. In fact, having a home at St. Louis was one of the expeditors of TWA’s demise — long before TWA flight 800.
United will announce on Monday that it is de-hubbing Cleveland.
70% of regional jet flights will be cut. The airline will offer ~ 72 flights to 20 destinations going forward. They’ll serve United’s hubs but key Northeastern business markets and Florida markets. But Cleveland as a connecting hub will be over come spring.
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