Upgrades to CLE, CAK Improve Traveler Experience

Over the last several years, more than $20 billion has been invested in Northeast Ohio, which has spurred the development of new hotels, mixed use entertainment centers, infrastructure upgrades, office buildings and much, much more. Just as the region has undergone a significant physical transformation, so too have two of our region’s most important assets: Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and the Akron-Canton Airport. Both airports recently completed major renovation projects, making improvements for business and leisure travelers alike.

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport

With more than 100,000 flights annually, Cleveland Hopkins serves as an important travel hub for millions of people each year. In June of 2016, the airport completed an expansive $36 improvement project, just in time for the Republican National Convention. Under construction for more than a year, the latest upgrades included a terminal makeover, which added more windows, energy-efficient lighting, and enhanced signage. In addition, the interior and exterior facades for both the ticketing and baggage claims levels were improved, as reported in this Cleveland.com story. In total, work on the terminal and the facades was estimated at $26 million.

The airport’s latest upgrades also included the addition of parking canopies over its surface parking lots, a welcome upgrade during the snowy winter months. The parking portion of the project was estimated at $10 million.

Offering an average of 142 daily nonstop departures and serving 40 destinations (some on a seasonal basis), these latest upgrades were designed with travelers in mind, with the ultimate goal of improving the end-user experience.

Akron-Canton Airport

Known for its ease and convenience, the Akron-Canton Airport is nearing the end of a 10-year, $110 million capital improvement plan, a plan it calls CAK 2018. CAK 2018 represents the most ambitious improvement plan in the airport’s history and includes a variety of key upgrades, which are outlined below.

CAK 2018 (Source: http://www.akroncantonairport.com/public-info/cak-2018)

  • Runway 5/23 Extension $65.8 million (complete) Extend from 7,600 ft. to 8,200 ft | Upgrade safety area at north end. Relocate and install Instrument Landing System (ILS)
  • Expand Aircraft Parking and General Aviation Area $3 million (complete) Enough space to park 2-3 Boeing 737-800 aircraft | Could serve as future deicing pad | New ramp space for private pilots
  • Replace Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting Maintenance Facility $8.4 million (complete) 30,000 sq ft | Airfield management and weather center | Housing for two fire trucks & other heavy equipment
  • New Customs and Border Patrol Facility $1 million (complete) International flights | Corporate and GA international flight checks
  • Expand Auto Parking Lots $13.7 million (in progress) Up to 1,000 new spots | 50% added capacity | New entrance/exit booths | Covered premium parking
  • Widen Entrance Road $5 million (in progress) Add one automobile lane | Replace storm water and sewer lines
  • Expand Ticket Wing $2.5 million (complete) 150 extra ft. of check-in space | More space for TSA baggage checks
  • Expand TSA Screening Area $3 million (complete) 5,000 additional sq. ft. | 25% more space | Screen 33% more people per hour | Relocate food court
  • Replace Existing Gate Concourse $30 million (in progress) Expand concourse | More restrooms | New business club | More seating
  • Build new Port Green Industrial Park (complete) 180 acres | 10-12 business sites | Zoned 1-2 Limited Industrial & Commercial | Airport will lease the land | Partnership with City of Green and Summit County

As the airport completes the remaining projects of CAK 2018, CAK will embark on a new 20-year master plan, which it announced in February 2016. The master plan calls for $240 million in capital improvements including a redesign of the airport’s main entrance and a new gate.

Impact on Northeast Ohio

As business and leisure travelers rely on Cleveland Hopkins and Akron-Canton airports to get to and from their desired destinations, these latest upgrades will go a long way in serving the needs of busy travelers.  Located within a 500-mile radius of nearly half of the U.S. population, Northeast Ohio’s central location makes it an important logistics hub and having two key airports is a major asset for the region. As such, the airports’ latest upgrades will further enhance the traveler’s experience, making Northeast Ohio an important connector and destination for people across the globe.