GREEN – The Akron-Canton Airport soon could be reconnected with Houston.
The airport has received a $850,000 federal Small Community Air Service Development Grant to restore air service with George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.
The grant will be offered to United Airlines to make up for any loss in revenue as service is resumed, said Lisa Dalpiaz, vice president of marketing and air service at Akron-Canton, adding that it’s crucial to the local economy to have affordable flight options.
U.S. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez announced the grant Thursday afternoon.
Akron-Canton officials have been working to restore airline service lost during the coronavirus pandemic, which caused travel restrictions around the country and world.
When travel dropped, airlines redistributed aircraft to larger markets. At one point, airlines were providing only three flights per day from Akron-Canton and the number of passengers using the airport dropped to 10% of the normal loads.
Returning to Houston
Before the pandemic, United Airlines offered daily flights connecting with Houston.
Dalpiaz said the airport has been working with United to rebuild service. The airline’s network planning team submitted a letter of support for the grant application.
United has been serving Chicago O’Hare and Washington Dulles through the pandemic, but had delayed restarting Houston flights.
There is proven demand for the service from Akron-Canton to Houston, Dalpiaz wrote in an email. Demand shows that local travelers are heading for Houston, or using that destination to connect with other cities in Texas as well as the West Coast and Latin America, she said.
“We believe this will help us fulfill the community’s need,” she wrote.
The grant is designed to restore lost service, Gonzalez said in a prepared statement.
“Akron-Canton Airport connects my constituents with other parts of the region and the country,” he said, adding that the airport will play an important role as travel resumes.
Dalpiaz said the airport appreciates Gonzalez’s “continuous work to make aviation a priority for our residents and economy.”