Air service is essential to economic performance because it supports economic output, attracts business, supports economic development and helps retain jobs. Without it, opportunity is limited.
In Ohio, air service has experienced a greater decline in the last 20 years than other states in the Midwest. Since 2005, Ohio has lost more airline capacity than all other surrounding states losing service to 113 destinations! In that same time, only 3 new destinations were added: Dallas, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway and Punta Gorda. When compared to the Midwest, Ohio is at the bottom in seats per capita.
Air Service creates many jobs for Ohioans. Ohio’s commercial airports contribute over $17 Billion a year to the local economy and are a vital part of a regions attraction infrastructure when attracting business and workforce. The economic viability of commercial airports is reliant on passenger service and air cargo. Federal entitlement funding of airport infrastructure is based on the number of passengers an airport serves and the volume of air cargo.
JobsOhio Commercial Air Service Restoration
On June 4, 2020, the Board of Directors of JobsOhio approved the JobsOhio Air Service Restoration program for up to $10 million per fiscal year from July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021. The Commercial Air Service Restoration Program provides Ohio’s commercial airports the opportunity to work collaboratively through public and private partnerships to retain and restore air service opportunities for economic development. The program was established to assist business attraction and retention efforts across the state by providing support for air service in qualifying markets where airlines have canceled or are planning to cancel service.
While Ohio lags behind other states in the Midwest in air service, the pandemic leveled the playing field. Ohio is investing for the future and in a position to move ahead with resources in the form of an air service restoration program.
Prior to the pandemic, Ohio offered 11 west coast routes from Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati on six different carriers. As of March 2021, there are only 4 remaining routes offered by 4 carriers – 1 from Cleveland and Columbus and 2 from Cincinnati.
Only Pennsylvania lost more air service than Ohio as a result of the pandemic.
As a result of the pandemic there is a new category of air passenger – the mobile passenger. The pandemic has demonstrated that people can work from anywhere and this affords that opportunity.
Given its unique position and funding model, JobsOhio is able to react to air service opportunities to restore capacity at Ohio’s commercial airports. As air service continues on its path to recovery (estimated by 2023), JobsOhio will pivot and target underserved domestic markets at Ohio’s smaller commercial airports and international opportunities in larger markets.
The Importance of Air Service Restoration in Ohio
May 6, 2021
Ohio has been gradually losing flight service since 2005. This loss was further escalated by the pandemic which leveled the air service field across the U.S. With the help of JobsOhio, Ohio’s economic development corporation, the state is making key investments in air service restoration under the JobsOhio Air Service Restoration program.