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00000174-c556-d691-a376-cdd69e800000In 2014, less than four years after Continental and United announced they were merging, United shut down its hub at Cleveland Hopkins Airport. The number of nonstop flights offered by United is now a quarter of what it once was. But the loss of direct access to many destinations around the country was just the latest blow to air travel in the region. In the last decade, Pittsburgh also lost its hub status, and Cincinnati has seen the number of direct flights reduced drastically.Grounded: The Dehubbing of the Region’s Airports is presented with support from the Kent State University College of Business Administration, Ohio State Chiropractic Association, and Bender’s Tavern.00000174-c556-d691-a376-cdd69e800002For the casual traveler, the loss of direct flights to/from many cities has made flying less convenient but at the same time, less expensive. What’s been the impact on businesses located here? Has it caused companies to reconsider the region as for their headquarters or operations? And what of the business traveller? We'd love to hear your own travel experiences, bad or good. Share with us on Twitter or Facebook, and please include #flyingfiasco with your post!

Ohio Lawmaker Wants Two New Airport Hubs

photo of Flight Plan to Grow Ohio Jobs
State Rep. Jim Butler says Ohio has the population to support hubs like those in bigger cities like Atlanta and Dallas/Ft. Worth.

A Republican state lawmaker says companies have left Ohio because of a lack of access to air travel. He says Ohio can bring back jobs and more flights by building two new regional hub airports, one in the southwest and one in the northeast.

Southwest Ohio Rep. Jim Butler wants to build airports at I-71 near Xenia and on I-80 just north of Ravenna. He says Ohio has the population to support hubs like Dallas/Ft. Worth and Atlanta have, but none of Ohio’s existing airports are within an hour’s drive of 3.5 million people, which he says a regional hub needs to be profitable. Butler admits it’s an expensive project - about $15 billion.  

“We’re not speculative, because the way they’re funded, no money for construction is spent until the airline says we’re going to make this our hub,” he said.

Butler also wants to add rail service between the major cities and the regional airports. He says federal money won’t be easy to get, but says he hopes President Trump will like this because it’s a big idea.

A better investment
Airline industry analyst Kerry Tan is a professor at Loyola University Maryland.  He says – with Cleveland, Akron and Youngstown already served by airports – the money for new facilities might be better spent on infrastructure.

“Could they improve the freeways which serve adequately to transport people through and within Ohio?  Or could they invest that money in different public works?  I’m just not sure if the money being funneled towards these two new airports is worth the cost.”

But Rep. Butler says part of his plan is to ask airlines to pay for construction of the airports in exchange for using them as hubs.  He says his plan is still being worked on and will likely not be ready for at least two years.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.
Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.