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Cincinnati Enquirer: CVG leading the region's economic rebound

Cincinnati Enquirer / Candace McGraw / January 18, 2023

Over the past several years, we have collectively experienced unimaginable change brought on by the pandemic. All industries were impacted including travel and aviation. However, as we wrapped up 2022, I am pleased to share that the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, CVG, has come roaring back to life − leading the region’s economic rebound along the way.

Guided by a strategic plan, New Heights, CVG remains steadfast in our vision that sees the airport as the catalyst to transform our region. We continue to focus on business diversification and economic growth at and beyond the airport for the benefit of all of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

The airport authority and companies doing business at CVG collectively employ more than 16,000 people. With a $6.8 billion annual economic impact, more than 47,000 direct and indirect jobs are supported in the region because of CVG.

Air service is critical to our mission − to serve the region’s business and leisure travel needs. Last year, we were pleased that passenger numbers have nearly returned to 2019 levels. Air Canada returned to CVG with service to Toronto while Delta resumed flying to Paris-Charles de Gaulle in August. Frontier restarted service to Philadelphia, Phoenix and Raleigh-Durham while American Airlines announced it will start service to Raleigh-Durham this month− its 12th nonstop destination from CVG.

New to CVG, Breeze Airways, announced it will begin service to four markets this year: Charleston, South Carolina; San Francisco, California; Orange County, California; and Providence, Rhode Island. And in November, we were proud to announce that British Airways will begin service to London Heathrow starting this June − a coveted flight that is estimated to have a $57 million economic impact annually.

CVG is the epicenter of e-commerce in the United States. As North America’s seventh-largest cargo airport and the world’s 18th-largest, cargo volume grew by 149% between 2015 and 2022. In 2022, CVG continued to be one of the fastest-growing cargo airports in the world. We eclipsed nearly 2 million tons of volume over the past 12 months with DHL and Amazon continuing to grow. This success begets growth in related industries, too. FEAM Aero, an aircraft maintenance company with one hangar and more than 300 employees at CVG already, broke ground on a second hangar last fall − a $47 million investment that will create at least 200 new, good-paying jobs for our community.

On the business side of the airport authority, operational excellence remains our focus. Capital investments continue with airfield rehabilitation, upcoming replacement of many jet bridges, improvements to the baggage handling system, and service enhancements at our rental car facility, which has now been in operation for more than a year. We are focused on leading our industry to improve energy efficiency and sustainability, such as bringing sustainable aviation fuel production to our region. We are also committed to innovation and engaging with startups and university talent to deploy new tech that improves the customer experience and advances the future of aviation, such as through advanced air mobility and drones. As operator of the Miami University Airport in Oxford, Ohio, we are also focused on improving the aviation infrastructure and services offered in Butler County and beyond.

We close out 2022 having celebrated 75 years of commercial air service at CVG. Since that first commercial flight on Jan. 10, 1947, much has changed. CVG is proud to end the year with region-leading low average airfares, 50-plus nonstop destinations for our community, including several international markets, and continued cargo and economic growth. Our airport is an asset that has helped lead regional recovery coming out of the pandemic. We are proud to serve in this role and will continue these efforts throughout this year and beyond.

Candace McGraw is the CEO of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.