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"CVG CEO says airport reinvention is under way"


 
Saturday, April 21, 2012

McGraw says airport reinvention is under way
By Amanda Van Benschoten
The Cincinnati (OH) Enquirer


BLUE ASH - Concourse A isn't the only thing getting a facelift at the
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport: A reinvention of the
entire airport is under way, CEO Candace McGraw said Friday.

"What we once were is not what we will be in the future," she said during a
speech to the Woman's City Club of Greater Cincinnati. "We need to grow and
evolve, and that's what we're working on."

Key initiatives are to maintain and grow air service, align terminals and
other facilities for future needs, and overhaul the airport's business
model.

The reinvention strategy comes as officials update the airport's master
plan, a federally-mandated blueprint for growth through 2035. Early drafts
call for transitioning from a hub operation to a multi-carrier operation.

That shift in mentality follows years of downsizing by the once-vibrant
Delta Air Lines hub. Peak daily departures are at about 170, down from 600
during Delta's heyday. Nonstop service to Europe is down to one destination,
Paris, from five in 2005. And CVG offers nonstop service to about 50 U.S.
cities, compared with 130 in 2005.

"Going towards the future, we recognize we're not going to be the superhub
that we were," McGraw said. "We want to maintain the heft of Delta and the
current level of flights, but then how do you layer in on top of that and
create a complete picture for air service?"

CVG still offers more peak daily departures and non-stop domestic
destinations than any other airport in the region, but officials say they
recognize the need for more flights and carriers to improve service and
reduce airfares. McGraw said it's a matter of when - not if - that happens.

"We are talking to a variety of carriers," she said. "Do I think we will
have low-cost carrier service? Definitely. Can I tell you when that will be?
No. But are we working diligently towards that end? Yes."

The $31 million renovation of Concourse A is meant to provide for that
growth. When it opens in about a month, the 16-gate concourse will house the
airlines that now fly out of the eight-gate Terminal 2. Delta and Comair
will still fly out of Concourse B. Consolidating air service into Terminal 3
will also boost CVG's image, McGraw said.

"When we consolidate in one terminal, it will give (the airport) a feeling
of rejuvenation, a feeling of heft," McGraw said. "All our passengers will
be going through one terminal. There will be no vacant space. It will give
us a psychological boost, and it will also give us the ability to attract
and grow carriers."

As air service and facilities evolve, so must the airport's business model.

The master plan update is likely to recommend diversifying its revenue
streams by leasing more airport-owned land. And in 2015, CVG will
renegotiate a 40-year-old use agreement with its airlines. McGraw said the
airport will seek terms that give it more flexibility for future
development.

CVG is also taking steps to highlight its ties to the community. A river
city mosaic theme will run throughout Concourse A, and officials are
exploring ways to incorporate more local art throughout the airport.

The airport is also working to bring back local flyers who use surrounding
airports. A new marketing campaign emphasizes the speed and convenience of
flying CVG, and McGraw said the airport has commissioned a study on the
issue.

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