Home » MRNK17: CVG is the 8th largest U.S. cargo airport with 8,500 jobs and billions in annual impact

MRNK17: CVG is the 8th largest U.S. cargo airport with 8,500 jobs and billions in annual impact

By Robbie Clark

Reduced landing fees have resulted in lower airfares and more passengers utilizing Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
Reduced landing fees have resulted in lower airfares and more passengers utilizing Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

Whether it’s for business or leisure, getting people into, around and through Northern Kentucky is critically important for the region’s transportation entities, which are commercial arteries in the heart of the U.S. economy.

Beginning commercial passenger service in 1947, CVG now offers more than 160 peak-day flights to 54 nonstop airport destinations, including direct international service to Paris, Toronto and three Caribbean locations.

mrnk-cover300Since becoming CEO in 2011, Candace McGraw has efficiently guided CVG out of its toughest times, creating an airport that now sees passenger numbers growing and carriers offering cheaper airfares.

“We’ve been able to do that by operating the airport like the true business that it is,” McGraw said. “We have an operating budget a little over $100 million, and what we’ve done over the last several years is take excess costs out of our system. We’ve demolished old, obsolete buildings. We’ve been smarter about the way we operate, so we’ve had a continuous decrease in our expenses over the course of the past four years, while at the same time doing things to increase our revenues, like the diversification of land development. All of those things are working to lower our costs.”

German-owned DHL air freight has its U.S. hub – one of three globally – at CVG and has expanded it multiple times in the past decade, making the airport one of the highest volume freight transit points in the hemisphere and attracting significant distribution operations to the region.

Due to its improved cost structure, CVG has been able to reduce the landing fees it charges carriers by 44 percent. That decrease gets passed on to passengers. With an average ticket fare of $411 in the 4Q of 2015, CVG had the 22nd highest fares in the nation, which is considerably better than a year earlier when fares were the third-highest. The lower fares are creating a spike in passengers choosing CVG over other airports. According to McGraw, the airport is tracking a 7 to 8 percent year-over-year increase in passengers for 2016, after a 6.5 percent increase
in 2015.

According to a 2012 report, CVG has a $3.6 billion economic impact on the Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati region, and McGraw is optimistic these numbers will be significantly higher when the new passenger count is taken into consideration, as well as a growing employee base. CVG has over 12,000 badged employees at the facility, and about 60 percent of those workers are residents of Northern Kentucky.

That means getting passengers and employees to and from CVG is an important transportation need, one that the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky takes very seriously. The TANK public bus system’s a dedicated airport express route provides transportation from downtown Cincinnati, Covington, Fort Mitchell, Erlanger and other communities
to CVG.

For more than 30 years TANK has served the Kenton, Boone and Campbell counties in Northern Kentucky as well as downtown Cincinnati where riders can transfer to routes provided by Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA). TANK provides transportation annually to more than 3.4 million riders on 27 routes with more than 1,200 stops and a fleet of over
100 vehicles.

The Covington Transit Center functions as TANK’s main route nucleus, with other hubs in Fort Mitchell and Florence.

TANK also operates the Southbank Shuttle Trolley, a high-frequency rubber tire trolley that connects the Ohio Riverfront cities of Bellevue, Covington and Newport in Kentucky and Cincinnati in Ohio. The trolley routes connect passengers with area entertainment districts, sports stadiums and other cultural destinations. The Southbank Shuttle route has a ridership of nearly 550,000 passengers per year.

In September 2016 after decades of planning and postponement, the Cincinnati Streetcar, a light-rail public transportation system, became operable. Though none of its routes yet service Northern Kentucky, the civic group Northern Kentucky Streetcar Committee is raising money to fund a feasibility study of bringing streetcars across the Ohio River.

Motorists who drive themselves have access to a variety of Interstates to take them to other regions or just get around Northern Kentucky. Interstate 75 carries drivers north toward Dayton, Ohio, and south toward Lexington, Ky., and is the nation’s key transport artery from Michigan to Florida. Interstate 71 conveys drivers northeast to Columbus, Ohio, and southwest toward Louisville, Ky. In Ohio, Interstate 74 travels west to Indianapolis. Interstate 275 is an 84-mile complete beltway around metro Cincinnati. One of the longest auxiliary interstates in the nation, it is the only one that traverses three states. Interstate 471 is an urban connector linking Interstate 275 with Interstate 71 in Cincinnati; that freeway winds north through the suburban cities of Southgate and Fort Thomas to the urban areas of Newport and Bellevue.

One of the most unique transportation features in Northern Kentucky is reserved solely for people. The Newport Southbank Bridge, a former L&N Railroad Bridge called the Purple People Bridge due of its purple paint, was the region’s first railroad crossing of the Ohio River when it opened in 1872. Automobile traffic didn’t follow until 1896. The bridge was closed to rail and vehicular traffic in 2001, and later that year after was restored as a pedestrian bridge which links the popular Newport on the Levee development with downtown Cincinnati.

The Purple People Bridge is a very popular thoroughfare for Northern Kentucky citizens wanting to reach The Great American Ballpark or Paul Brown Stadium for a professional sporting event.

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