CLEVELAND, OHIO — United Airlines will discontinue several seasonal routes this summer from Cleveland Hopkins, including flights to Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Pensacola, Florida; and Portland, Maine.

An airline spokeswoman attributed the cuts to the national pilot shortage. The leisure-oriented routes were offered last summer only, roughly from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. All were flown by United regional partners on smaller, 50-seat Bombardier CRJ-550 aircraft. The discontinued routes include flights to Pensacola, Florida; Portland, Maine; and Myrtle Beach, Charleston, and Hilton Head, South Carolina. The flights all ran three times per week, geared to leisure travelers.
All U.S. airlines have focused primarily on leisure travelers since the coronavirus pandemic brought air travel to a near-halt in early 2020. Gradually, though, business routes are being added back into the schedule. This summer, for example, United’s schedule typically includes seven flights per day to Newark, New Jersey; six per day to Chicago; three or four to Denver and one or two to San Francisco. In June 2022, United is scheduled to offer 221,378 available seats to and from Cleveland Hopkins – that’s 84% of what the airline operated in 2019, before the pandemic, and well above the carrier’s 148,497 seats in June 2021 and 26,406 seats in June 2020, according to the airport. The airline, which closed its hub at Hopkins in 2014, was the airport’s largest carrier in 2021, with 23% of all traffic.

United spokeswoman Christine Salamone points out that the airline is retaining several leisure-oriented routes from Cleveland to non-hub cities this summer, including Fort Lauderdale and Orlando in Florida; Cancun, Mexico; and Nassau in the Bahamas.

She also noted that United is working to address the national pilot shortage by launching its own flight school, United Aviate Academy, which opened earlier this year outside Phoenix.

She said the school will train “as many as 5,000 pilots this decade, and create a steady pipeline of highly qualified people, most of whom will first fly for one of our regional partners before joining United.”