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Thursday, April 4, 2019

What Happened to Money Cleveland Budgeted to Promote Flights to Iceland?

Posted By on Thu, Apr 4, 2019 at 11:18 AM

click to enlarge PHOTO VIA WIKIMEDIA
  • Photo via Wikimedia
A City of Cleveland spokesperson told Scene this week that only $238,000 of a budgeted $2 million was provided to Icelandair and WOW Airlines to promote travel from Cleveland Hopkins Airport to Reykjavic, Iceland.

In 2017, when the direct flights by both carriers were announced, the airport said it would commit $500,000 per airline for two years to help market the flights. 

Now, both routes have been canceled. WOW Airlines has financially collapsed and suspended all of its flights last week. Days before, Icelandair announced that it would scale back its direct flights from the U.S. in a cost-cutting move that execs blamed, in part, on the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircrafts. The underperformance of the Cleveland to Iceland route has not been disclosed, but Cleveland was among the cities that Icelandair axed.

A Cleveland spokesperson said that Icelandair spent $200,000 of the money Hopkins made available, and WOW spent only $38,000. The airport will not be reimbursed for these expenditures, but the $1.8 million in unspent funds will be folded back into the airport's marketing budget.

This year, the Mayor's budget allocated $170 million for operating costs at both Hopkins and Burke Lakefront airports.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership, the region's chamber of commerce, also contributed funds to promote the Iceland routes. While GCP wouldn't say how much it contributed — they do not speak publicly about their conversations with private companies — Sarah Johnson, GCP's VP of Marketing and Communications, told Scene that continuing to attract direct international carriers to Hopkins would remain a priority.

"Other cities are seeing the benefits that accrue from those kinds of direct connections," Johnson wrote in an email, "provided that they serve scores of other cities across the globe where Cleveland companies do business."

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