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Airline Hub Loss Stalks the Heartland: Who’s Next After Cleveland?

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport
Cleveland Hopkins International AirportPhotograph by Mark Duncan/AP Photo

United Airlines’ decision to quit its Cleveland hub this spring—Hopkins International doesn’t rock, apparently—isn’t the first time a major city has lost its bragging rights as an airline base, and it won’t be the last.

Memphis and, to a lesser extent, Cincinnati, have both lost their hub status since Delta Air Lines absorbed Northwest and rationalized its network, cutting financially underperforming flights. A similar story played out at Hopkins, a former Continental hub inherited in United’s 2010 merger that hasn’t been profitable for a decade, according to a recent memo (PDF) sent to Cleveland workers by United Chief Executive Officer Jeff Smisek.