WASHINGTON, D.C. — With reports this week of Delta Air Lines raising some fares by $120 round trip, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today called on Delta to address high ticket prices and a decrease in the number of flights at Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky Airport (CVG). In a letter to Delta CEO Richard Anderson, Brown noted a dramatic decrease in flight levels and fewer direct flights from CVG as hurting southwest Ohio consumers and the Cincinnati business community.
“Delta has played an important role in the growth of Cincinnati’s economic development, but recently, surging fares and decreasing flight levels have put CVG and Cincinnati businesses at a competitive disadvantage,” Brown said. “Southwest Ohio businesses and consumers deserve affordable ticket prices and accessible service. I look forward to working to rebuild their CVG hub to best serve passengers, the region, and Delta.”
Southwest Ohio is home to major domestic and international companies like Proctor & Gamble, GE Aviation, Toyota, and dozens of foreign based companies that have chosen the region in part because of the travel access provided at CVG. Recently reported by the Cincinnati Business Courier, Duke Energy Corp.’s chief economist cited CVG airport as the one major roadblock to economic growth.
The 2008 merger between Delta and Northwest Airlines was generally supported by the southwest Ohio business community under the condition that flight levels would remain the same and that international service may even expand.
Brown cited a more than 50 percent decrease in departures from Delta at CVG. There were 1716 domestic flight departures in January 2007 decreasing to 829 domestic flight departures in January 2010. During that same period international flights decreased from 107 departures to 50 departures in January 2010. The number of destinations served also reduced from 116 in 2007 to 77 in 2010— including the elimination of direct international flights to London, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam.
Ticket prices remain some of the highest in the nation, and on-time departures lag behind the national average. Just this week, the Kentucky State Senate passed a bill aimed at attracting low-cost carriers to CVG. Sen. Brown also wrote to the Kenton County Airport Board Chairman urging the board to focus on attracting new airlines, lower ticket costs, and increase passenger traffic.
Full text of the letters is below.
February 16, 2011
Dr. Michael L. Robinson
Kenton County Airport Board
P.O. Box 752000
Cincinnati, OH 45275
Dear Dr. Robinson:
I know you and your fellow board members share my concern regarding the substantial reduction of flights and cities served at the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky Airport. Our region is home to major domestic and international companies like Proctor & Gamble, GE Aviation, Toyota, and dozens of foreign based companies that have chosen the region in part because of the travel access provided at CVG. CVG is crucial to regional economic development and I write both to express my concern about airport issues and request information on how the Board plans to address these issues.
Clearly, the merger of Delta and Northwest Airlines has not benefited CVG nor, as many Ohioans have written me, passengers. Ticket prices remain some of the highest in the nation, and on-time departures lag behind the national average. It is my understanding that the continued high ticket prices are due in part to a lack of competition at the airport and the lack of so-called low cost carriers like Southwest Airlines and JetBlue.
As the Kenton County Airport Board is responsible for overseeing the airport, I would like to know what actions the board is taking to attract new airlines, lower ticket costs, and increase passenger traffic at CVG. Additionally, what actions could be taken by the State of Ohio, Kentucky, or the congressional delegation representing the airport that would help the aims of the airport board?
The airport is critical to our region’s long-term economic success and can play an important role in our ongoing economic recovery. I appreciate the work you do and look forward to working with you to enhance travel options, address ticket affordability, and create new economic and business opportunities for the Greater Cincinnati community.
United States Senator