Continental plans Cleveland expansion

Continental Airlines, along with Mayor Frank G. Jackson and Governor Ted Strickland, have announced a plan by Continental to grow its capacity at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport by 40 percent over a two-year period. Continental will initially operate 50 new flights, principally on regional jets, and add 20 new nonstop destinations by next summer. By early 2009, Continental plans to add more than a dozen additional flights, principally on mainline aircraft, further strengthening Cleveland’s role in Continental’s global route network. The project is expected to create an estimated 700 Ohio jobs.

Many of the regional jet aircraft used for the additional service will be reallocated from Newark. Beginning in 2009, a number of additional mainline aircraft will also be allocated to support the growth.

Today’s announcement is the result of a partnership among Continental, the City of Cleveland and the State of Ohio.

“This growth strengthens Cleveland and gives customers more options when connecting within the Continental system,” said Larry Kellner, Continental chairman and chief executive officer. “Mayor Jackson’s partnership, support for air service development and his strong management team at Hopkins were crucial to our decision. We’re also grateful for the leadership and support of Governor Strickland, Lt. Governor Fisher and the State of Ohio, the support of Cleveland City Council and the Ohio Congressional delegation. All this support has helped make it possible for us to grow our presence here.”

“Continental Airlines is making a significant investment in the City of Cleveland and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. This strategic investment is designed to maximize Cleveland’s assets, create a positive environment for business and serve as a vehicle for tourism to the entire Cleveland Plus region,” said Mayor Jackson. “I’d like to thank Mr. Kellner, Mr. Smisek, Governor Strickland, Lt. Governor Fisher, Director Smith and all who worked with me and my staff to make this vision for Cleveland a reality.”

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“The State of Ohio is proud to partner in this effort to support this major expansion in the great City of Cleveland,” said Governor Strickland.

The State offered an incentive package valued at more than $16 million; to date, Continental has been awarded a $900,000 Rapid Outreach Grant, a 70-percent, 10-year Ohio Job Creation Tax Credit, an Ohio Investment in Training program grant valued at up to $550,000, as well as employment pre-screening, testing and recruitment services through the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

“Ohio’s world-class transportation infrastructure and airports are strengths for our communities that enhance our economic development goals, and this expansion will bolster Cleveland Hopkins and support business development in Northeast Ohio,” said Lt. Governor Lee Fisher, who also serves as Director of the Ohio Department of Development. “Continental’s expanded air service at Cleveland Hopkins will benefit the entire state by improving access to Ohio and demonstrating to expanding businesses one more reason why more than 1,000 internationally owned establishments from 26 countries are located in Ohio.”
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