In this case, of airports. No, not that most of them are in danger of fading away (although a few have, as we've discussed previously), but that their airline tenants might choose to de-emphasize this location, or, even worse, to pull out entirely. Years ago, I visited the airport at Glens Falls, New York. Once served by Eastern Airlines, and later, Mohawk, by the early 1970s it was bereft of scheduled airline service.
But what I'd like to talk about here is closer to home, to me personally. On October 25, the following was reported at cincinnati.com:
As a downsized Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport prepares to consolidate all passenger airline service into Terminal 3, it will study whether to keep the remaining two terminals - or tear them down.
So why would an airport that was the Midwestern U.S. hub of one of the largest airlines in the world, with multiple daily transatlantic nonstop departures, be considering tearing terminal facilities down? Well, following the merger with Northwest, Delta apparently does not have a need for two hubs in the Midwestern United States, and since the former Northwest operation at Detroit was considerably larger than Delta's at Cincinnati, and DTW is also a major trans-Pacific gateway (in addition to trans-Atlantic) for the carrier, Cincinnati's hub has been "de-emphasized", and its flights reduced considerably.
Cincinnati.com goes on to discuss some of the specifics:
Now, officials want to know the cost and feasibility of tearing down the 65-year-old Terminal 1 and its parking garage, as well as the 37-year-old Terminal 2 and the now-vacant Concourse C in Terminal 3.
I'm familiar with all three, although it still strikes me as odd to hear what was "The Terminal" (or even, "The Airport"), during my earliest visits in the 1950s having a number assigned to it. While no longer in use for scheduled service, after US Airways moved to Terminal 2, visits in recent years still managed to evoke an earlier era in air travel, when people -- passengers and visitors alike -- moved between the front door of the building and the boarding gates with no interference whatsoever. A distinctive feature that wouldn't be permitted in an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) environment today, namely the main men's and women's rooms located one level down from the main (ticketing) level, remains as a reminder.
And the roof of the old main concourse is a reminder that this was one of the first observation decks that I ever experienced. Back in the 1950s and 60s, a growing airline business catered to the interest of the general public in its technology. In addition to observing aircraft in action (yes, that's a space between the two words), there were metal boxes containing loudspeakers that enabled the onlooker to listen in on communications between the airliners and air traffic control, for the modest sum of a dime (10 cents). It should be noted that, even as of the early 1960s, there were periods of time during the day when there was very little to listen to, however.
Now Terminal 2, which opened in 1974, may not be much of a loss, from the standpoint of esthetics. Yes, the arrival of jet aircraft at Cincinnati as of 1960 stimulated traffic considerably, and caused a need for additional terminal capacity as the decade ended. Terminal 2 addressed this basic need, but at the expense of being able to actually see much of the airside, unless you were a very small child, or, perhaps, a pet. The windows on the concourse were basically at floor level, for some reason; this, and the paucity of services available in the boarding areas did little to endear this structure to human beings.
Concourse C at Terminal 3 (which was built to accommodate Delta's hub operation in Cincinnati) also lacked significant external viewing opportunities, but offered numerous opportunities for travelers to acquire food and beverages during their often-brief connections at the hub. This structure, which could only be reached via shuttles from Concourse B, catered specifically to DL's burgeoning use of regional jets at the CVG hub, and thus, was heavily utilized when the hub was operating at full scale. it was closed in 2009 when the remaining RJ operations were moved to Concourse B, now largely devoid of mainline Delta aircraft. What's interesting about this building's demise is that it was purpose-built to foster the "RJ Revolution", which, in a surprisingly short period of time has turned into devolution.
So, time marches on at CVG. Contrary to what you might think from the third word in the title, the airport is not dying; my 1970's experience at Glens Falls won't be repeated here anytime soon. In fairness, Delta (at least to date) still operates a daily number of flights at Cincinnati that would be the envy of many an airport; there's still a daily nonstop to and from Paris. Given the current situation, it makes sense to consolidate all passenger services in Terminal 3. Still, this airport's situation serves to illustrate that while hubs in their heyday can be a great thing for an airport, only the memories remain when this is no longer the case. And finally, Cincinnati continues to have something many other airports have foregone: an observation area, located to the east of the airport on Donaldson Road, once the main approach to the facility.
Hopefully there will be lots to observe for a long time to come.