Cleveland Hopkins International Airport

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Cleveland Hopkins International Airport
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.svg
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport Terminal.jpg
Airport typePublic
OwnerCity of Cleveland
OperatorCleveland Airport System
LocationCleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Focus city forFrontier Airlines
Coordinates41°24′42″N 081°50′59″W / 41.41167°N 81.84972°W / 41.41167; -81.84972Coordinates: 41°24′42″N 081°50′59″W / 41.41167°N 81.84972°W / 41.41167; -81.84972
FAA airport diagram
FAA airport diagram
CLE is located in Ohio
Location of airport in Ohio / United States
CLE is located in the United States
CLE (the United States)
Direction Length Surface
ft m
6L/24R 9,000 2,743 Concrete
6R/24L 9,956 3,034 Concrete
10/28 6,018 1,834 Asphalt/Concrete
Statistics (2019)
Aircraft operations119,268
Total passengers10,040,817 Increase4.2%[1]
Source: FAA[2] and CLE airport.[3]

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (IATA: CLE, ICAO: KCLE, FAA LID: CLE) is a public airport located in Cleveland, Ohio, 9 miles (14 km) southwest of the downtown area and adjacent to the Glenn Research Center, one of NASA's ten major field centers.[2] It is the primary airport serving Greater Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, the largest and busiest airport in Ohio, and the 43rd busiest airport in the United States by passenger numbers.

Cleveland Hopkins offers non-stop passenger service to 54 destinations with 174 average daily departures. Cleveland Hopkins is operated by the Cleveland Department of Port Control, which also includes Burke Lakefront Airport located downtown. In 2018, Airports Council International ranked Cleveland Hopkins the most improved North American airport in the 2017 Airport Service Quality Survey.[4]


Cleveland Hopkins is of particular importance to the history of commercial air travel due to a number of first-in-the-world innovations that would eventually become the global standard. Founded in 1925, it was one of the first municipality-owned facility of its kind in the United States.[5] It was the site of the first air traffic control tower[citation needed], the first ground-to-air radio control system[citation needed], and the first airfield lighting system[citation needed], all in 1930; and it was the first U.S. airport to be directly connected to a local or regional rail transit system, in 1968.[6] It was also the first airport to employ a two-level terminal design separating arrivals from departures. The airport was named after its founder, former city manager William R. Hopkins, on his 82nd birthday in 1951.

First closure of United hub and establishment of Continental hub[edit]

United Airlines established its easternmost domestic hub in Cleveland after World War II, which it maintained until the mid-1980s, when it closed its Cleveland hub and moved capacity to a new hub at Washington–Dulles. Following the closure of the United hub, Continental Airlines (which at the time was a separate carrier and lacked a Midwest hub) responded by adding capacity to Cleveland, as did USAir, which was the dominant carrier at the airport from 1987 until the early 1990s.[7] While USAir soon reduced its schedule from Cleveland, Continental substantially increased its hub capacity, becoming the airport's largest tenant and eventually accounting for upwards of 60 percent of passenger traffic. Continental and the airport both made substantial operational and capital investments in the airport's infrastructure. In 1992, the airport completed a $50 million renovation of Concourse C, which housed all of Continental's flights. The renovation included the installation of a continuous skylight, a Continental President's Club lounge, and a new Baggage Claim area.[8] In 1999, the airport completed an $80 million expansion that included the construction of the new Concourse D (now closed), which was built to accommodate Continental Express and Continental Connection flights.

Continental—United merger and second closure of United hub[edit]

In 2010, Continental and United Airlines announced that they would merge operations.[9] The merger prompted concerns that a post-merger United would reduce or close its hub in Cleveland and instead route passengers through the new United's nearby hubs at O'Hare Airport in Chicago and Dulles Airport in Washington.[10][11] On November 10, 2010, Continental CEO Jeff Smisek stated in a speech in Cleveland that "Cleveland needs to earn its hub status every day" and added that overall profitability would be the determining factor in whether the new United kept or closed the Cleveland hub.[12]

United continued to reduce its capacity in Cleveland following the merger, which already had been substantially reduced in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.[13] On February 1, 2014, United announced that the airline would shut down its Cleveland hub, stating as justification that the airline's hub at Cleveland "hasn't been profitable for over a decade." [14] By June 5, 2014, United Airlines effectively terminated its hub operation at the airport, reducing its daily departures by more than 60%.[15] United also closed Concourse D and consolidated all of its remaining operations in Concourse C, although it is required to continue to pay the airport $1,112,482 a month in rent for the facility until 2027.[16]

Post-hub history[edit]

The airport initially experienced a sharp decline in passenger counts following the closure of United's hub in 2014. Several other airlines, however, increased their service to Cleveland in subsequent years. Frontier Airlines significantly increased its service to the airport and declared Cleveland a focus city.[17] Other low-cost airlines such as Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air began new service to the airport as well, and existing airlines such as American, Delta, and Southwest also increased their number of daily flights and destinations. As a result, by 2017 the airport's passenger count exceeded levels achieved during the last full year that United maintained a hub in Cleveland.

Despite the closure of its hub, as of 2017 United still maintained roughly 1,200 employees in Greater Cleveland, including a flight attendant and pilot base as well as maintenance facilities.[18] United also remains the largest carrier at Hopkins, serving 17 destinations with close to 60 peak day departures. Regional airline CommutAir, which flies exclusively on behalf of United Express, is headquartered in nearby North Olmsted.[19]


Satellite view of the airport.
Hopkins airport is known[according to whom?] for its fanciful giant "paper" airplane sculptures located in the underground walkway between Concourses C and D (now closed to the public)
Cleveland RTA at the airport station


Cleveland Hopkins consists of one two-level passenger terminal, which was completed in 1978, and renovated in 2016. There are four concourses, three of which are currently in use.

  • Concourse A houses Allegiant Air, Frontier, Spirit, charters, and all international arrivals. Delta Air Lines also uses it for overflow parking and sports charters. It also houses the airport's Federal Inspection Services (FIS) customs and border protection facility. Originally known as "North Concourse", it was opened in 1957 and rebuilt in 1978–79.
  • Concourse B houses Delta and Southwest. It was built in 1954 as the first extension pier to the airport, and was rebuilt and expanded from 1982 to 1983.
  • Concourse C houses Air Canada Express, American, JetBlue and all United services, except for international arrivals which are handled in Concourse A. Originally known as "South Concourse", it opened in 1969 and was renovated in 1992.
  • Concourse D has been vacant since 2014, when United closed its gates and consolidated all operations to Concourse C.[20] Built in 1999, it is a separate terminal connected to Concourse C by an underground walkway. Although capable of handling larger jets such as the Boeing 737,[21] it exclusively handled smaller regional aircraft during its operation. Concourse D contains 12 jet bridge gates and 24 ramp loading positions.[21]


Cleveland Hopkins covers an area of 1,717 acres (695 ha) and has three runways:[2]

  • 6R/24L: 9,956 x 150 ft. (3,034 x 46 m) concrete
  • 6L/24R: 9,000 x 150 ft. (2,743 x 46 m) concrete
  • 10/28: 6,018 x 150 ft. (1,834 x 46 m) asphalt/concrete

Other facilities[edit]

Cleveland Hopkins is home to both crew and maintenance bases for United Airlines.[22]

The airport is also home to one of five kitchens operated by airline catering company Chelsea Food Services, a subsidiary of United Airlines.

Cleveland Airmall, a unit of Fraport USA, manages the retail and dining locations at the airport. Tenants include Johnston & Murphy, Great Lakes Brewing Company, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum Store, Bar Symon, and Sunglass Hut.[23]

The airport has two lounges: a United Club in Concourse C and an Airspace Lounge near the entrance to Concourse B in the Main Terminal.

Ground transportation[edit]

The airport is connected to the Cleveland Rapid Transit system with the Red Line Rapid Transit station beneath the terminal. The airport has a dedicated taxi service of 110 vehicles.[24]

Rental car operations are located at a consolidated rental car facility off the airport property. Shuttle services are provided between the airport and the facility.

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Air Canada Express Toronto–Pearson [25]
Allegiant Air Punta Gorda (FL), Sarasota, Savannah, St. Petersburg/Clearwater
Seasonal: Charleston (SC), Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Jacksonville (FL), Myrtle Beach, Nashville, Norfolk, Orlando/Sanford
American Airlines Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami
Seasonal: Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor[27]
American Eagle Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Miami, New York-JFK, New York–LaGuardia, Philadelphia, Washington–National
Seasonal: Dallas/Fort Worth
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Detroit, Salt Lake City
Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul
Delta Connection Boston, Detroit, Hartford, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK, New York–LaGuardia, Raleigh/Durham [29]
Frontier Airlines Cancún, Denver, Fort Myers, Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Punta Cana, Sarasota, Tampa
Seasonal: Austin, Charleston (SC), Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Raleigh/Durham, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle/Tacoma, West Palm Beach
JetBlue Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers [31]
Southwest Airlines Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago–Midway, Dallas–Love, Denver, Fort Myers, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Nashville, Orlando, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, St. Louis, Tampa
Seasonal: Fort Lauderdale, Houston
Spirit Airlines Atlanta, Cancún, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Newark, New Orleans, Orlando, Tampa
Seasonal: Boston, Dallas/Fort Worth, Fort Myers, Myrtle Beach
United Airlines Cancún (resumes December 19, 2020),[34] Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Houston–Intercontinental, Los Angeles, Newark, Orlando, San Francisco, Washington–Dulles
Seasonal: Tampa (resumes December 17, 2020)
United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark, Washington–Dulles
Seasonal: Charleston (SC), Tampa


Castle Aviation Akron/Canton, Columbus–Rickenbacker, Hamilton
FedEx Express Columbus–Rickenbacker, Indianapolis, Memphis, Newark
Seasonal: Buffalo, Flint, Rochester
FedEx Feeder Erie
UPS Airlines Chicago/Rockford, Louisville
Seasonal: Columbus–Rickenbacker, Philadelphia, Ontario, CA
Western Global Airlines Louisville


Airline market share[edit]

Largest Airlines at CLE
(September 2019 – August 2020)
Rank Carrier Percentage Passengers
1 United Airlines 16.20% 943,000
2 Southwest Airlines 15.97% 930,000
3 Frontier Airlines 13.23% 770,000
4 Spirit Airlines 11.61% 676,000
5 Delta Air Lines 8.39% 488,000
- Other* 34.61% 2,015,000

* - Includes flights operated by Delta Connection and United Express partner airlines. Those numbers are not a part of mainline operation numbers.

Top destinations[edit]

Busiest domestic routes from CLE (August 2019 - July 2020)[36]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Georgia (U.S. state) Atlanta, Georgia 300,000 Delta, Southwest, Spirit
2 Illinois Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 262,000 American, United
3 Colorado Denver, Colorado 191,000 Frontier, Southwest, United
4 Florida Orlando, Florida 186,000 Frontier, Spirit, Southwest, United
5 North Carolina Charlotte, North Carolina 156,000 American
6 Texas Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 135,000 American, Spirit
7 Illinois Chicago–Midway, Illinois 116,000 Southwest
8 Florida Fort Myers, Florida 112,000 Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United
9 Florida Tampa, Florida 110,000 Frontier, Southwest, Spirit
10 New York (state) New York–LaGuardia, New York 106,000 American, Delta

Annual passenger traffic[edit]

Annual passenger traffic at CLE
Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers
1999 13,020,285 2009 9,715,604 2019 10,040,817
2000 13,288,059 2010 9,492,455 2020 2,382,759 YTD
2001 11,864,411 2011 9,176,824 2021
2002 10,795,270 2012 9,004,983 2022
2003 10,555,387 2013 9,072,126 2023
2004 11,264,937 2014 7,609,404 2024
2005 11,463,391 2015 8,100,073 2025
2006 11,321,050 2016 8,422,676 2026
2007 11,459,390 2017 9,140,445 2027
2008 11,106,196 2018 9,642,729 2028

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On May 24, 1938, United Air Lines Flight 9, a Douglas DC-3 flying from Newark to Chicago via Cleveland crashed on approach to Cleveland killing all seven passengers and three crew members on board.[38]
  • On August 27, 1971, a Chicago & Southern Airlines Volpar Turboliner with 2 occupants on board suffered a loss of power on the no.1 engine shortly after takeoff, it stalled and crashed killing 1 crewmember of the 2 on board.[39]
  • On January 4, 1985, an armed 42-year-old Cleveland woman named Oranette Mays hijacked Pan Am flight 558, a Boeing 727 scheduled to fly from Cleveland to New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport. During the boarding process for the flight in Cleveland, Mays shot her way onto the plane, shooting and injuring a USAir employee who tried to stop her in the process. Mays then commandeered the plane, took 7 hostages (including an 8-month-old baby), and demanded to be taken to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After a 6-hour stand-off, a SWAT team made up of Cleveland police and FBI agents stormed the plane. Mays and an officer were shot before police were able to arrest Mays.[40]
  • On February 17, 1991, Ryan International Airlines Flight 590, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-15 cargo flight bound for Indianapolis International Airport stalled and crashed after takeoff from CLE due to wing contamination. While the DC-9 was on the ground for 35 minutes, there was no de-icing service on the aircraft and blowing snow accumulated on the wings, causing a stall and loss of control on takeoff. Both occupants were killed.[41]
  • On December 15, 1992, a Mohican Air Service Volpar Turboliner II on a ferry flight crashed after its initial climb, the sole occupant was killed. Improper installation of the elevator during recent maintenance on the aircraft was the probable cause.[42]
  • On January 6, 2003, a Continental Express Embraer ERJ-145LR overran the runway upon landing from Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, CT. The airplane continued beyond the departure end, on the extended runway centerline, and struck the ILS runway 6 localizer antenna. It came to rest with the nose about 600 feet (180 m) beyond the end of the runway. The nose landing gear had collapsed rearward and deformed the forward pressure bulkhead.[43]


Ground Transportation Center[edit]

In May 2015, the airport moved the pick-up and drop off location for most shuttles to the former limo lot, requiring most passengers to take two escalators underneath the former shuttle parking in the arrivals lane at the airport. Originally meant to be a temporary fix, the airport made the Ground Transportation Center a permanent fixture in May 2017. This angered many travelers, who complained on various social media platforms, as well as local media outlets, garnering negative publicity for the airport's plans.[44] In March 2019, the pick ups and drop offs location for most of the shuttles (except for limo shuttles) have moved to the north end of the baggage claim level.


In May 2013, the airport demolished its aging, 2,600-space Long Term Garage, replacing it with a 1,000 space surface lot for $24M.[45] This in turn created a parking shortage, and daily lot closings when parking lots would become full. The airport's Twitter account became a daily update of parking closures at the airport. The airport converted the Short Term Garage to a so-called Smart Garage, and valet parking garage. The airport eliminated its free half-hour courtesy parking perk, and began to charge $3 for a half-hour.[46]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "10,040,817 million passengers passed through CLE in 2019".
  2. ^ a b c FAA Airport Form 5010 for CLE PDF, effective July 5, 2007
  3. ^ "History". CLE Going Places - Cleveland Hopkins Airport.
  4. ^ "This Midwestern Airport Was Just Named 'Most Improved'". Travel + Leisure. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
  5. ^ "Airport History". Archived from the original on November 19, 2012.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "US Air Wants Mini-Hub in Cleveland". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. February 23, 1987. Retrieved July 5, 2012.
  8. ^ "Continental Airlines Concourse C". Robert P. Madison International. Archived from the original on July 8, 2004. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  9. ^ Smisek, Jeffrey A. (October 1, 2010). "What Does the Merger Mean for You". Continental Airlines. Archived from the original on October 3, 2010. Retrieved October 1, 2010.
  10. ^ O'Donnell, Paul (June 19, 2008). "Continental, United Agree to Link Airline Networks". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved June 19, 2008.
  11. ^ Koenig, David (April 7, 2009). "DOT Plans to OK Continental Joining Star Alliance". USA Today. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  12. ^ Miller, Jay (November 10, 2010). "United Airlines CEO Smisek Says Cleveland Must 'Earn Its Hub Status Every Day'". Crain's Cleveland Business. Retrieved July 5, 2012.
  13. ^ Ramsey, Mike (September 28, 2011). "Airline Mergers Leave Airports Off the Radar". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 28, 2011.
  14. ^ "Excite News - United Airlines drops Cleveland as hub airport".
  15. ^ "Frontier Airlines continues push from Cleveland as Dulles fires up. Now for?: US ULCCs Part 2".
  16. ^ "What will become of Concourse D after United Airlines cuts regional flights at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport?".
  17. ^ Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY (March 21, 2014). "Frontier Airlines tabs Cleveland as newest focus city". USA TODAY.
  18. ^ "United Airlines commemorates 90 years of ups and downs in Cleveland (photos)".
  19. ^ "Regional airline adding new headquarters to existing North Olmsted operation".
  20. ^ "United vacating Cleveland airport concourse". The Washington Times.
  21. ^ a b "Continental Airlines Unveils State-of-the-Art Aviation Facility in Cleveland" (Press release). Continental. May 13, 1999. Retrieved July 5, 2012.
  22. ^ "United Technical Operations".
  23. ^ "CLE Going Places - Cleveland Hopkins Airport". CLE Going Places - Cleveland Hopkins Airport.
  24. ^ "Taxis". Cleveland Airport System. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
  25. ^ "Flight Schedules". Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  26. ^ "Allegiant Air". Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  27. ^ "American Airlines Adds Warm Weather Winter Routes". Retrieved August 30, 2020.
  28. ^ a b "Flight schedules and notifications". Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  29. ^ a b "FLIGHT SCHEDULES". Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  30. ^ "Frontier". Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  31. ^ "JetBlue Airlines Timetable". Retrieved January 29, 2017.
  32. ^ "Check Flight Schedules". Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  33. ^ "Where We Fly". Retrieved January 29, 2017.
  34. ^ "United Airlines Announces Eight New Routes and Increases Flights to 19 Destinations in the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico for Winter Sun-Seekers". United Airlines. October 2020. Retrieved October 17, 2020.
  35. ^ a b "United Map". Archived from the original on August 8, 2018. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  36. ^ a b "Cleveland, OH: Cleveland-Hopkins International (CLE)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Retrieved October 21, 2020.
  37. ^ "History". CLE Going Places - Cleveland Hopkins Airport.
  38. ^ "Ship Crashes to Earth in Sight of Cleveland Airport". Evening Independent. May 25, 1938. Retrieved July 5, 2012.
  39. ^ Accident description for N351V at the Aviation Safety Network
  40. ^ "SWAT Team Storms Jetliner in Cleveland : Woman Holding Four Hostages Is Wounded; One Officer Injured". Los Angeles Times. January 5, 1985.
  41. ^ Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network
  42. ^ Accident description for N706M at the Aviation Safety Network
  43. ^ "N16571 Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved January 21, 2012.
  44. ^ "Travelers are unhappy with new Cleveland Hopkins International Airport shuttle stops".
  45. ^ "Cleveland Hopkins alters parking plans to keep option of expanding garage (photos)".
  46. ^ "Cleveland Hopkins airport opens new overflow parking lot with garage nearing capacity".


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

External links[edit]