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Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport

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Title: Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport  
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Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport
Location of the airport in Kentucky
Airport type Public
Owner Kenton County Airport Board
Operator Kenton County Airport Board
Serves Cincinnati, Ohio
Location Hebron, Kentucky
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 896 ft / 273 m
Coordinates 39°02′56″N 084°40′04″W / 39.04889°N 84.66778°W / 39.04889; -84.66778

Direction Length Surface
ft m
9/27 12,000 3,658 Asphalt/Concrete
18C/36C 11,000 3,353 Asphalt/Concrete
18L/36R 10,000 3,048 Concrete
18R/36L 8,000 2,438 Concrete
Statistics (2011)
Total passengers 7,034,263
Aircraft operations 161,912
Sources: Airport website.[3]

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (IATA: CVGICAO: KCVG), sometimes called the Greater Cincinnati Airport, is a Class B international airport located in Hebron, Kentucky, United States, and serves the Greater Cincinnati metropolitan area. Despite being located in Boone County, the airport operations are governed by the neighboring Kenton County Airport Board. The airport's code, CVG, comes from the nearest major city at the time of its opening, Covington, Kentucky. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport covers an area of 8,000 acres (32 km2).[4] It is the busiest airport in Kentucky.


President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved preliminary funds for site development of the Greater Cincinnati Airport February 11, 1942. This was part of the Army Air Corps program to establish training facilities during World War II. At the time, air traffic in the area centered around Lunken Airport just southeast of central Cincinnati.[5] Lunken opened in 1926 and was located in the Ohio River Valley. Due to its location, the airport frequently experienced fog, and the 1937 flood completely submerged its runways and two-story terminal building.[6] While federal officials wanted an airfield site that would not be prone to flooding, Cincinnati officials hoped to build Lunken into the premier airport of the region.[7]

A coalition of officials from Boone, Kenton and Campbell Counties in Kentucky took advantage of Cincinnati's short-sightedness and lobbied Congress to build an airfield there.[8] Boone County officials offered a suitable site on the provision that Kenton County paid the acquisition cost. In October 1942, Congress provided $2 million to construct four runways.[5]

The field officially opened August 12, 1944, with the first B-17 bombers beginning practice runs on August 15. As the tide of the war had already turned, the Air Corps only used the field until 1945 before it was declared surplus. On October 27, 1946, a small wooden terminal building opened and the airport prepared for commercial service.[5]

The first airplane, an American Airlines DC-3 from Cleveland, Ohio, landed at the airport January 10, 1947, at 9:53 am. A Delta Air Lines flight followed moments later.[9] The April 1957 Official Airline Guide shows 97 weekday departures: 37 American, 26 Delta, 24 TWA, 8 Piedmont and 2 Lake Central. As late as November 1959 the airport had four 5,500 ft (1,700 m) runways at 45-degree angles, the north–south runway eventually being extended into today's runway 18C/36C.

Airport diagram for Dec 1958

Jet age

On December 16, 1960, the jet age arrived in Cincinnati when a Delta Air Lines Convair 880 from Miami completed the first scheduled jet flight. The airport needed to expand and build more modern terminals and other facilities; the original Terminal A was expanded and renovated. The north–south runway was extended 3,100 ft (940 m) to 8,600 ft (2,600 m). In 1964, the board approved a $12 million bond to expand the south concourse of Terminal A by 32,000 sq ft (3,000 m2) and provide nine gates for TWA, American, and Delta.[5] A new east–west runway crossing the longer north–south runway was constructed in 1971 south of the older east–west runway. In the mid-1980s, Delta created a hub in Cincinnati and constructed Terminal 3 with its three midfield concourses. This hub eventually grew to be Delta's second largest, handling over 600 Delta and Delta Connection flights in 2005.[10]

Delta hub cuts

In 2008, Delta merged with Northwest Airlines and cut flight capacity from the Cincinnati hub by 22 percent with an additional 17 percent reduction in 2009.[10] Delta announced additional cuts in February 2010 by eliminating five destination cities, which left CVG with 63 destinations between mainline and connection flights.[11] Many businesses in Cincinnati have urged Delta to restore the service level it had in the late 1990s and early 2000s (decade) while some, such as Chiquita Banana, have already relocated to cities with more available flights.[12] Flights at CVG are scheduled in morning and afternoon blocks, in which very large numbers of flights are scheduled to depart around the same time. The only remaining intercontinental service by Delta is a daily departure to Paris in the evening. In addition to serving the heavy international travel demand of local companies such as P&G and GE Aviation, the daily Paris flight is also sustained in great part because it ferries jet engine parts between factories in Cincinnati and France due to GE Aviation's presence. Each year the flight carries 4,200,000 pounds (1,900,000 kg) of engine parts.[13]Air France operated flights into CVG for several periods for over a decade before finally terminating the service in 2007. Both Air France and KLM codeshare on Delta's international and domestic services out of CVG.[14][15] In January 2010, Delta's CEO Richard Anderson anticipated that there would be 160–170 daily departures in the summer and that the number would not change through at least the fall.[16][17] Delta closed Concourse A in Terminal 3 May 1, 2010, and consolidated all operations into Concourse B. This resulted in the layoff of more than 800 employees. Delta, however, says that it will maintain the same amount of departures from CVG.[18] In June 2011, Delta announced that it would cut another 10% of the CVG hub capacity that summer, offering between 145–165 daily flights.

Comair ends service

In July 2012, Delta announced their wholly owned and CVG-based subsidiary, Comair, would cease all operations by October of the same year. However, it said "the discontinuation of Comair's operations will not result in any significant changes to Delta's network, which has enough flexibility to accommodate these changes".[19] Comair is now defunct, leaving all Delta Connection flights operated exclusively by third party regional carriers.


The airport's terminal/remote-concourse configuration, combined with simultaneous triple landing/takeoff capabilities, makes CVG a particularly efficient airport for flight operations. CVG is the second smallest domestic hub of Delta Air Lines, after Memphis, and was the central hub of Delta's wholly owned subsidiary airline, Comair, which provided regional jet service under the Delta Connection banner. As such, the airport serves an important role in Delta's Midwest hub-and-spoke system. In recent years, Delta Air Lines has considerably pared the number of flights out of the Cincinnati hub and in August 2008 announced it would be moving all of its Comair flights to Concourses A and B and closed all operations in Concourse C in January 2009.[20] In February 2010, Delta announced it would close Concourse A in May and further consolidate operations in the remaining concourse.

The airport has three terminals, though only one in use. Since January 2007, Terminal 1 houses only airport administrative offices. It is the original terminal and was built in 1960 and renovated in 1974.[21] Designed by Heery & Heery, Terminals 2 and 3 were built in 1974 when additional expansion necessitated more gates.[22] Terminal 3 was expanded specifically for Delta in 1987 and has three remote concourses.[21] Concourses B and C were completed in December 1994 as part of a $500 million expansion designed by Thompson, Hancock, Witte & Associates.[21][23] Concourses A and B are connected to the main terminal by an underground train system. Concourse C was reachable only by shuttle bus. Concourse B is served by Delta and its regional affiliates. Terminal 3 houses the airport's only US Customs and Border Protection facilities in Concourse B. All international arrivals except, U.S. border preclearance are processed in the Mezzanine Level of Concourse B.

Concourse B in Terminal 3 is well known for its open spaces, high ceilings, large windows with views of the airfield, and natural lighting during the day. All Delta and Delta Connection flights operate from Concourse B.

In May 2012, Terminal 2 was officially closed and all non-Delta operations were consolidated in a newly renovated Concourse A. The renovation was in response to civic and business leader's concerns about the loss of flights to and from the airport.[24] Terminal 2 will be demolished at a date that has not been set yet.

The airport currently operates four paved runways:

  • Runway 9/27: 12,000 x 150 ft. (3,658 x 46 m), Asphalt/Concrete
  • Runway 18C/36C: 11,000 x 150 ft. (3,353 x 46 m), Surface: Asphalt/Concrete
  • Runway 18L/36R: 10,000 x 150 ft. (3,048 x 46 m), Surface: Concrete
  • Runway 18R/36L: 8,000 x 150 ft. (2,438 x 46 m), Surface: Concrete


In addition to hundreds of ground staff employees, Delta has a flight attendant base and a pilot base for the McDonnell Douglas MD-88, and Boeing 737–800. In total, over 1,000 people are employed at Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport.


Delta operates one SkyClub in Concourse B and also operated a Business Elite lounge near Gate B14 until summer of 2008. Delta formerly operated a SkyClub in Concourse A.[25] Though the lounge was closed, the furniture and space are now used as a lounge for pilots.

Main Terminal (formerly called Terminal 3)

Concourse A

Operated by Delta Air Lines until 2010, Concourse A underwent an extensive renovation before re-opening on May 15, 2012, to serve passengers on Air Canada,Allegiant Airlines, American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, United Airlines, and US Airways, all of which formerly used Terminal 2, which is now closed. As such, ticketing, security screening and baggage claim for all airlines now take place in the newly renamed Main Terminal (Terminal 3).[26]

Concourse B

Concourse B is, like all concourses of Terminal 3, designed and originally purposed for Delta and its affiliates, including Cincinnati based Delta subsidiary, Comair. The concourse now houses all Delta and Delta Connection flights with a total of 39 gates. Also, U.S. Customs and Border Protection are contained in Concourse B .

Concourse C

Concourse C, which once housed all Delta Connection flights, opened in September 1994[27] and closed in 2009 due to Delta Air Lines cutting flights from the hub. Concourse C is an island and was only accessible by passengers from other terminals and ticketing facilities via buses. Delta has a lease on the concourse until 2025.

Security Checkpoint

The main terminal security checkpoint is on the ticketing level. This new, expandable checkpoint opened in November 2009. After clearing security, passengers can take escalators or elevators down to the Cincinnati Airport People Mover that departs to all gates. Arriving passengers exit the terminal by elevator or escalator up to the baggage claim level and ground transportation.

Airlines and destinations


Top destinations

Top Ten Busiest Domestic Routes Out of CVG
(March 2012 – February 2013) [28]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Georgia (U.S. state) Atlanta, GA 274,000 Delta
2 Illinois Chicago, IL (ORD) 212,000 American, Delta, United
3 North Carolina Charlotte, NC 149,000 Delta, US Airways
4 Florida Orlando, FL 131,000 Delta
5 Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 114,000 Delta, US Airways
6 California Los Angeles, CA 111,000 Delta
7 Texas Dallas/Fort Worth, TX 110,000 American, Delta
8 Minnesota Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN 105,000 Delta
9 Michigan Detroit, MI 102,000 Delta
10 New York New York City, NY (LGA) 95,000 Delta
Busiest International Routes from Cincinnati (2011)[29]
Rank Airport Passengers Carriers
1 France Paris, France 97,552 Delta
2 Canada Toronto, Canada 80,159 Air Canada, Delta
3 Mexico Cancun, Mexico 17,479 Delta, Frontier
4 Canada Montréal, Canada 11,434 Air Canada, Delta
5 Dominican Republic Punta Cana, Dominican Republic 9,490 Frontier

Cargo carriers and destinations


Other facilities

Delta Private Jets is headquartered on the grounds of the airport.[30] The airport also houses a hangar and line maintenance facility for Delta Air Lines' primary maintenance, repair and overhaul arm, Delta TechOps.[31]

Comair has its headquarters in the Comair General Office Building, at 82 Comair Boulevard.[32]

77 Comair Boulevard formerly served as the corporate headquarters of Comair.[33] The building, with 187,000 square feet (17,400 m2) of space,[34] is on South Airfield Road. In 2010, after the airline began downsizing, it considered leaving the building and moving to another location near the airport. A spokesperson did not disclose how much office space the airline occupied; she said it was planning to reduce its space by 20 to 25 percent.[35] In 2011 Delta Air Lines, parent company of Comair, suggested that Delta could help assist the airport in obtaining a Transportation Security Administration training center, with it being located in 77 Comair Boulevard.[36] In early 2011, Comair vacated the building.[34] In 2012 the Kenton County Airport Board approved a five-year lease, with two five-year options, for Southern Air for about 33,100 square feet (3,080 m2) of space in 77 Comair Boulevard. For the first period, the rent would be $9.95 per square foot. This would increase to $12 per square foot for the second period and $15 per square foot for the third period. The airport plans to spend $500,000 in capital improvements on 77 Comair Boulevard.[33]

Ground transportation

TANK provides bus service from the airport to Downtown Cincinnati via Route 2X. Car rental services are provided by Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National and Thrifty. The Main Terminal has Short Term Parking Garages. The Short Term Parking areas are designated by fruit names: Level 1- Orange, Level 2- Lemon, Level 3- Lime, Level 4- Cherry, and Level 5- Grape. Long Term Parking is remote from the terminal, so passengers must use a shuttle bus between the terminals and Long Term Parking lot.

Based aircraft

Jet Aircraft – 9 Single Engine – 2 Multi-Engine – 2

Total – 9 (Data as of 2009)[37]



Statistics for Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport
Year Total Passengers  % change Aircraft Movements  % change
2002[38] 20,812,642 Steady 486,501 Steady
2003[38] 21,197,447 Increase 1.8% 505,557 Increase 3.9%
2004[39] 22,062,557 Increase 4.1% 517,520 Increase 2.4%
2005[40] 22,778,785 Increase 3.2% 496,366 Decrease 4.1%
2006[41] 16,244,962 Decrease 28.7% 345,754 Decrease 30.3%
2007[42] 15,736,220 Decrease 3.1% 328,059 Decrease 5.1%
2008[43] 13,630,443 Decrease 13.4% 285,484 Decrease 13.0%
2009[44] 10,621,655 Decrease 22.1% 222,677 Decrease 22.0%
2010[45] 7,977,588 Decrease 24.9% 177,597 Decrease 20.2%
2011[3] 7,034,263 Decrease 11.8% 161,912 Decrease 8.8%
2012[46] 6,038,817 Decrease 14.2% 143,447 Decrease 11.4%


CVG consistently ranks among the most expensive major airports in the United States.[47] Delta operates over 88% of flights at CVG, a fact often cited as a reason for relatively high domestic ticket prices.[48] Airline officials have suggested that Delta practices predatory pricing to drive away discount airlines.[47][49] From 1990 to 2003, ten discount airlines began service at CVG, only to later pull out,[50] including Vanguard Airlines, which pulled out of CVG twice.[51] Delta maintains that its pricing is reasonable, considering the increased connectivity and non-stop flights that a hub airport offers a market the size of Cincinnati.[50]

According to a study commissioned by CVG, 18% of Cincinnati-area residents use one of five nearby airports – Dayton, Louisville, Port Columbus, Indianapolis, or Blue Grass (Lexington) – instead of CVG because passengers can find fares up to 50% lower at these nearby airports.[50]

In a bid to boost local ridership and make CVG more competitive with surrounding airports, Delta Air Lines announced a large-scale fare reduction on February 6, 2009.[52]

Industrial murals

The airport is home to 14 large Art Deco murals created for the train concourse building at Cincinnati Union Terminal during the station's construction in 1932. Mosaic murals depicting people at work in local Cincinnati workplaces were incorporated into the interior design of the railroad station by Winold Reiss, a German-born artist with a reputation in interior design.

When the train concourse building was designated for demolition in 1972, a "Save the Terminal Committee" raised funds to remove and transport the 14 murals in the concourse to new locations in the Airport. They were placed in Terminal 1, and in Terminals 2 and 3, which were then being constructed as part of a major airport expansion and renovation.

The murals were also featured in a scene in the film Rain Man starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise. In addition, a walkway to one of the terminals at CVG was featured in the scene in the film when Hoffman's character, Raymond, refused to fly on a plane.

Notable accidents

  • On November 14, 1961, Zantop cargo flight, a DC-4, crashed near runway 18 into an apple orchard. The crew survived.
  • On November 6, 1967, TWA Flight 159, a Boeing 707, overran the runway during an aborted takeoff, injuring 11 of the 29 passengers. One of the injured passengers died four days later. The seven crew members were unhurt.
  • On November 20, 1967, TWA Flight 128, a Convair 880, crashed on approach to runway 18, killing 70 (65 passengers and 5 crew) of the 82 persons aboard (75 passengers and 7 crew).
  • On October 19, 1979, Burlington Airways, a Twin Beech twin prop crashed landed on KY 237 @ I-275 bridge overpass. Tail # N24K. No one was injured. Source: [53]
  • On June 2, 1983, Air Canada Flight 797, a DC-9 flying on -Dallas-Toronto-Montreal route, made an emergency landing at Cincinnati due to a cabin fire. Twenty-three of the 41 passengers died of smoke inhalation or fire injuries, including legendary Canadian folk singer Stan Rogers. All five crew members survived.

See also



External links

  • Historical Images of Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky Airport
  • History of the Industrial Murals
  • Mural images and location map
  • PDF), effective June 26, 2014
  • FAA Terminal Procedures for CVG, effective June 26, 2014
  • Resources for this airport:
    • AirNav airport information for KCVG
    • ASN accident history for CVG
    • FlightAware live flight tracker
    • NOAA/NWS latest weather observations
    • SkyVector aeronautical chart for KCVG
    • FAA current CVG delay information
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