Burke Airport Traffic Declined in 2018, Again


  • Photos by Aerial Agents

For those keeping track of Burke Lakefront Airport’s decline, it continued in 2018. According the Federal Aviation Administration’s number count, Burke had 34,407 takeoffs and landings in 2018 compared to 38,571 in 2017.

A decline of 10.5%. The sixth straight year the plane usage has gone down, and it has dropped in 17 of the past 20 years. (It’s high was 100,321 take-offs and landing in 2000). Consistent drain circling.

One number to pay attention to on this: The city has constantly said the reason it keeps Burke open — and doesn’t do studies of the pluses and minuses of closing it for 450 acres of city-owned lakefront development — is the argument that Burke is an economic engine for private business use. That downtown businesses charter jets to be big players around the country and rake in tons of money for The Land.

Sounds nice, but in reality, not much of that there anymore.

The FAA’s “general aviation” usage category are planes going from one airport to another, and not air taxis or carriers like American or United that sell seats to the public. In 2000, Burke had 51,474 of these general aviation flights, but this year it was down to 13,695. That’s a drop of 73% since 2000.

Some have suggested that if Burke was closed, its traffic could be absorbed by Cuyahoga County Airport in Richmond Heights. The current numbers say that could easily happen. The county airport’s total yearly airplane numbers have dropped by 67% since 2000, and their “general aviation” use has gone down from 43,166 in 2000 to 11,231 last year. So the merging of Burke’s business operations with what the county airport does now would put them at about half of what they had two decades ago.

And only 20-30 minutes from Public Square.

But, again, remember that closing an airport needs FAA approval, and to do that, you need mayors and governors and congressional reps to get the train moving. It often takes about ten years. But none of them are saying anything about this, and if Cleveland wants Burke closed by 2030, it would have to start now.

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