Monday, February 17, 2014

Good Bye, CLE.

If you're like me, you are sad to see United close CLE has a hub, but you kinda saw it comin'.  I've only passed through Cleveland two or three times, and I have yet to fly on the direct flight from OKC (but I intend to do that before the de-hubbing is complete).  More than anything, I want to say thank you to the United and #ExCon employees who have dedicated their waking hours to the #flyerfriendly skies.

From a cultural standpoint, I know that Jeff and his team probably struggled with closing a Continental hub since there has been so much sCO frustration with the new United.   But it's a loud statement that United is focused on creating a profitable airline.

I spent a good deal of tonight reading wikipedia articles on United Shuttle and Ted, which led me to  I spent about an hour looking at route maps and I got to thinking about what the CLE close means to the United route structure.  Nothing.  The new United is over saturated in the northeast.  Between O'Hare, Liberty, and Dulles, there's no where you can't get on United.

I would like to make it clear that I'm not saying the people of Cleveland's United Team mean nothing, but specifically the route system.  I greatly appreciate the work that each and every CLE United Team Member has provided.  

But it got me thinking about what United's Route Structure is missing.  My first thought was a northwest hub... say SEA.  SeaTac would provide a great strategic location for International and Domestic routes.  But the Seattle market is a bit crowded.  Between Alaska (Horizon) and Southwest, there are so many routes that cannot be penetrated.  There's also so much International service from SEA that it would be tough to overcome.

Although I think that putting more direct flights to SEA would be great, I really think the best place to expand United's route structure is on the opposite side of map.

Orlando.  Nobody hates that town more than me (expect maybe the person who's been playing an oversized, stuffed version of Mickey for the last 15 years), but I believe that MCO could play a pivotal role in United's hub-and-spoke system as well as generate new revenue streams by creating more point-to-point options for holiday flyers.

The first reason I would pick the City Beautiful comes down to the amount of mainline flights in and out.  United has a large footprint at the airport already.  With US Airways (whoops, sorry, #worseAmerican) merging with oldAmerican there will most likely be a shift from gates 30-59 to gates 1-29, freeing up more space for more flights.

Secondly, I think that utilizing MCO would be a relief of burden for IAH.  Houston has a huge reach to Central and South America, but the airport gets clogged more often than not.  In the spring time when the April Showers bring delays for hours, MCO could serve as alternate routing for the Americas and the Tropics.

International Travel could also be eased with a southeast arrival.  Using Florida at a port of entry would allow business travelers a new approach to the US.  It would also allow Star Alliance members a new way to get travels to United.

Lastly, everyone is already flying to Orlando, why not give more direct flights.

I know that this blog is probably wasted breath, but I think United would do well to consider it.  I also know that I still wish my friends in CLE were not going to lose their jobs.  But I wish them the best, and I hope that this doesn't hurt the culture that was being built.

But, hey, I'm just some guy who likes to look at airplanes, so what do I know?

1 comment:

FlyGuyMike said...

Unfortunately for CLE it had the unfortunate position between CHI and EWR, like CVG between DTW and ATL. I think you're on point about a SE hub, it's a huge gap in the system when say someone wants to go from Orlando to RDU you have to fly via IAH or IAD. I know pre-9/11 CO had plans for Tampa but that is no more. I really don't foresee a new hub, likely more strengthening of the existing ones, especially SFO because you know it's as close to Asia as you can get. :)