I'll be honest when the merger first happened I thought UA did need CLE and did the right thing when they de-hubbed it. While I still believe we don't another northern hub we we have EWR, ORD and IAD I think CLE could become a strong focus city for UA focusing more on O&D.
If UA had enough mainline aircraft I think we could run 738/9ER's to all the hubs but then if we had a 100 seater aircraft or enough A319s we could run daily or daily double flights to locations like TPA, SAN, SEA, LAS, FLL, BOS, MSY, AUS, and perhaps a few other U.S. destinations. Then during the winter and spring break season we could run a a few flights seasonally from CLE to locations in Mexico and certain Caribbean Islands.
I feel like UA wasted so much time and money during the early years of this merger that we will never truly catch up to Delta but if we don't change we run the risk of becoming (for lack of a better word) irrelevant. One of the examples I can think of is Amazon v.s. brick and mortar stores, love them or hate them Amazon is the 800 pound guerrilla that has completely changed the way people shop. Here in the U.S. as Amazon has risen we have seen the fall of several brick and mortar stores that have been around for years, stores like Sears that have been around for generations has almost been reduced to rubble. Although I am comparing apples to oranges (the airline industry to brick and mortar stores and Amazon) what I've notice is at first Walmart didn't take Amazon seriously that has changed over the past 5 years or so and now Walmart although not as successful as Amazon they are not on life support unlike Sears and others. Walmart realized there was a shift taking place in the market place and they adapted fairly quickly and some would say that have been successful against Amazon.
I think Delta is do the same thing in reading the market. The have strong hubs but now they are shifting their focus to focus cities and providing customers in mid size cities with options that will allow them to skip one of their hubs on certain routes altogether. Take for instance DL's recently announced RDU-ORD-RDU route, it may be a small change and it may cost customers more money but for DL customers looking to avoid ATL, JFK, DTW, or MSP it might be worth to them to pay a little more for the nonstop. With DL launching more and more point to point routes it sometimes makes be question of the legacy 3 does DL have a better understanding of what the market wants than UA because UA is still so laser focused on hubs, hubs, hubs, while DL seems to be shifting their focus to more focus cities and more point to point where you don't need 10 daily nonstop 2-3 nonstops on a smaller aircraft is more than enough to meet the demand of some of Americas mid size cities.
UA already has the resources in CLE there is so much more we could be doing there while not turning it into a hub I think we are missing out on an opportunity to make CLE a strong focus city and CLE isn't the only city UA could turn into a focus city I think there is opportunity for UA to grow in other cities but we need to start taking action because Delta is showing no signs of slowing down.