The airline industry is constantly changing. The most recent decade has been defined by consolidation. The great recession, unstable and unpredictable oil prices, stressed labor relations and global competition on lucrative routes have driven US airliners to merge and in some cases merge again.
So where does this dynamic leave airports like CAK? Well, we can fight, flee or flow with the changes. Let’s look at each option. We could fight the changes by holding on too tight to service, that despite our best efforts and past success, is being reallocated to other parts of the airline’s network (AKA Southwest). Sometimes, the wave of change is simply too big for us to hold at bay. The other side of the fight however, is to replace lost fights and routes and that’s where we are fighting and fighting hard.
In the past year, United has added flights to Chicago and commenced new service to Newark. We are thrilled with United’s additions and have worked hard to help them be successful. American has added a new flight to New York’s LaGuardia airport. Yes! That compliments their Charlotte, Philly and Washington D.C. Reagan service. Delta has added larger jets to Atlanta and Detroit. Plus, our newest partner, Allegiant, is up to six nonstop destinations from CAK! Their vacation focus has brought thousands of travelers new to CAK. That has been really, really cool.
The second option would be to run away from the change brought on by consolidation. We could play the blame game…”it’s not our fault!” True or not, it doesn’t help things much. Our community deserves exceptional air travel options and a relaxing airport experience. We aren’t about to shy away from that.
Lastly, airports like CAK could just go with the flow. Hope for the best. A person whom I truly admire (yes, that’s you Kevin Healy) once said “hope isn’t a strategy.” So true. We have never been that airport. Flow would mean acceptance, complacency, inaction. Nope. Not CAK. We are doubling down on our smartest marketing and communications strategies to help our new service become successful as quickly as possible. Southwest helped us become even savvier marketers and they certainly have toughened us up. So, we are poised to add back lost capacity and return to growth by keeping high customer engagement levels.
Change happens. At CAK, we’ve tapped into our warrior spirit to succeed despite fewer airlines and challenging competitive landscape. We have the five most successful airlines in the US at CAK. They fly to 15 nonstop destinations. We hope to add more. With our committed team, savvy engagement strategy and highly ranked customer experience, we will get through this year and serve this community for many years to come.