Continental announced that it will be dropping its summer nonstop from Cleveland to London Heathrow, citing an unfavorable economic climate (ie, you suck). The Heathrow slot will almost certainly be filled with an additional flight to Houston or Newark, but that news is zero consolation to those fine Midwesterners in my former home city who now find themselves with an abundance of flights to Lansing, but no way to get to Europe without a connection.
Clevelanders have worried about Continental shrinking their hub for years, though until 2008 they enjoyed nonstop service to both London and Paris, giving them a European flight presence roughly on par with rival Shelbyville Pittsburgh. Oh to have those days back. Paris was dropped for 2009, and now with London off the map, talk will once again focus on whether Continental, in light of its tie-up with United, needs a significant regional operation in the same general vicinity as O’Hare. Continental has made a convincing case that it will maintain a mid-sized hub in Cleveland (certainly more convincing than Delta in Cincinnati), and I expect that to continue for the foreseeable future. But the economic community in Cleveland sold that London connection to prospective businesses as a reason to move to the area. While that probably overstated the value of the flight (considering nonstops to London are available from Detroit), its another blow to an area of the country that didn’t exactly need to be kicked down anymore.