After several months of radio silence, likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it looks like the master planning process is alive and well and moving along at a good pace. The $4.5 million cost of the Master Plan is being funded entirely by the airlines, which reportedly, are very much looking forward to the results of the much-needed new plan.
Cleveland City Council's Transportation received an update on July 30, 2020. Per the consultants, work continues on the Master Plan to complete the Facility Requirements task, finalize the Investigation Phase, and begin work in the Solutions Phase. Here is the document shared with Council:
The impact of the pandemic was starkly illustrated by the following slide:
Looking to the Future: Master Plan Public Meeting
The first of three public meetings were held on September 3, 2020. Here is the presentation offered by RS&H consulting.
I attended the entire presentation. The consultants reported that 208 people registered and 105 attended this first session. The next one is tentatively scheduled for October 14 at 6:00 p.m. (registration is necessary).
The Q & A was interesting and wide-ranging, facilitated mainly by Director Robert Kennedy and senior airport leadership. There was one participant who either asked many very specific questions and two who asked many questions about aircraft noise—I would assume they are local residents impacted by and concerned about noise (despite the fact that engines are much quieter, the noise footprint of Hopkins has shrunk significantly, and overall operations have gone from about 336,000 in 2000 to 128,000 in 2019). Director Kennedy promised to talk to those people offline, which I thought was great. It also kept the session from being sidelined by those with special interests.
In no particular order, these are some of my observations from the presentation and comments by airport leadership.
The main issues that need to be tackled include
A new Federal Inspection Station (FIS) for international arrivals
A consolidated, efficient central TSA security checkpoint; they noted this would be very difficult to achieve in the current terminal
Larger gate hold areas for the larger aircraft now using CLE
A more central rental car facility
Landside access, admittedly one of the more challenging issue, including roadways (access, configuration, congestion at peak times, particularly on the arrivals level), parking (even the hotel is under scrutiny)As I've noted in the past, the airfield has more than adequate capacity and runway length is sufficient due to newer engine technology
Other points discussed include:
The terminal will be a large focus of the plan; all options are on the table at this point, including renovation and expansion of the existing terminal or a brand new terminal.
They will address the future of Concourse D
Land use-the footprint for expansion is very limited; they will have to likely replace facilities at the end of their useful life)
There is demand for transatlantic service from CLE (none for transpacific, in answer to a question), and they are working very hard to attract a new carrier, obviously stalled by the pandemic); they did mention the "Icelandic experiment" of 2018 as well as talks with Aer Lingus.
International traffic is predicted to take 5-7 years to rebound, not just at CLE, however.
International traffic is forecasted to increase from 166,000 in 2019 to over 600,000 in 2039
Subsidies for international service was asked about like in PIT (and IND). They noted airports can only give limited support for marketing and waiving of some fees, but states and other entities can offer more. That is what Pennsylvania has done aggressively and JobsOhio is looking at a similar program for Ohio's airports.
They are in talks with 2 ULCC to have a crew domicile at CLE
They talked about the current closure of runway 24L/6R for the "north runway improvement project" to eliminate several hotspots on the airfield. It will reopen in October and then close again next summer to continue the work.
I also found the Airport Facilities Inventory part of the presentation highly interesting and summarize its contents below.
Total terminal space is 909,000 sq. ft. (764,000 sq. ft. + unused Concourse D)
Ticketing 89,075 sq. ft.
Baggage Claim 219,642 sq. ft.
Concourse A 107,800 sq. ft. 13 gates
Concourse B 78,600 sq. ft. 10 gates
Concourse C 268,400 sq. ft. 22 gates
Concourse D 144,600 sq. ft 12 gates (with more parking spaces along east side)
Total on-site parking capacity is 6,279 parking spaces (incl. for employees)
Smart Parking Garage 4,305 spaces
Orange Lot 1,063 spaces
Yellow Lot 250 spaces
Red/Blue Lots 612 spaces
Cell Phone Lot 49 spaces
Airport Traffic Control Tower is 324 ft.
Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting Facilities (ARFF)
North Fuel Farm 300,000 gal.
South Fuel Farm 1,200,000 gal.
FedEx Cargo 71,000 sq. ft.
Belly Freight/Cargo Lease Area
US Postal Service
United Facilities (I’m not sure I realized that UA still has this large of a footprint at CLE. I know Express Jet is folding very soon, so I wonder what will happen to that space)
United Maintenance Hangars 1, 2, 3
United Training Center
United Flight Kitchen
United Ground Service Equipment Building
Express Jet Hangar
Constant Aviation Primary Hangar
Constant Aviation Secondary Hangar
Constant Aviation Maintenance Hangar
South Glycol Facility 2,000,000 gal.
Fixed Base Operator (FBO)
Atlantic Aviation Hangar 50,000 sq. ft.
Atlantic Aviation Terminal 9,000 sq. ft.
I-X Center 2,200,000 sq. ft.
National Weather Service
UPS Cargo Center 17,000 sq. ft.
Vehicle Maintenance Building 29,000 sq. ft.
Consolidated Maintenance Facility 75,683 sq. ft.
Snow Removal Equipment Facility 97,000 sq. ft.
Brown Lot 511 spaces
Riveredge Airport Employee Lot 900 spaces
Rental Car Center 44 acres