CLEVELAND-- United Airlines continued to implement its plan to reduce flights to and from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport at midnight on Wednesday when employees closed the gates to Concourse D. The darkened stretch of building could be seen from the airport’s Cell Phone Lot while a once busy tarmac appeared abandoned.
All personnel and planes had been consolidated with Concourse C by Thursday morning as United worked to reduce the size of its Cleveland operation.
Airport Director Ricky Smith said in a statement released Thursday, “We are saddened and disappointed by the situation; however, we will continue to work with United Airlines and AIRMALL through this process and develop strategies to mitigate the impact on our existing airline partners and concessionaires.”
Clevelander James Lott said he found United’s latest news from Cleveland troubling.
“It’s going to make it more and more difficult for people to get in and out and cause a lot of confusion,” he said.
Business traveler Darlene Brooks said the consolidation of services might appear official with the closing of Concourse D at midnight on Wednesday, but she insisted she’d been feeling the inconvenience of fewer flights since April when the airline began reducing its schedules.
“There’s alternate flights but the inconvenience, because you’re so used to them being here and being able to get the flights that you need,” she said.
Jim and Marge Schroeder told FOX 8 they typically drive when they travel for pleasure, so they weren’t expecting difficulties due to the airline’s latest move. They were troubled, however, by the thought of close to 500 people losing their jobs in what United Airlines management had described in a February letter as a “difficult process.”
“Sad, I don’t know what’s going to happen, but, uh, they have to do what they have to do, I guess,” said Schroeder.
The airport director said the city’s workforce development office would continue to work with United to provide transitional employment services to employees who were affected.
Meanwhile, director Smith said airport management would also continue to review uses for the facility to enhance customer service while reducing costs.
United management said in a February letter addressed to employees that average daily departures from Hopkins would be reduced by close to 60% by the month of June.