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CVG leadership says the airport is flying toward a bright future

Breeze Airways President Tom Doxey with CVG CEO Candace McGraw
Zack Carreon
Breeze Airways President Tom Doxey with CVG CEO Candace McGraw on Feb. 8, 2023.

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and its newest carrier, Breeze Airways, honored the airline's inaugural flight from Cincinnati to San Francisco Wednesday with a celebration topped off with champagne at the departing flight's gate.

The addition of Breeze Airways now allows CVG to offer nonstop flights to San Francisco and Charleston, S.C., with more direct flights to cities like Santa Ana, Calif., and Providence, R.I., on the way in March.

CVG CEO Candace McGraw says the new nonstop flights are part of the many changes coming to the airport this year. On top of Breeze Airlines, CVG is planning to welcome direct flights to London on British Airways starting this summer.

"We're constantly evolving. We're constantly looking for additional destinations," McGraw said.

McGraw says the airport is continuing to tailor its services to appeal to a wider variety of customers by connecting them to popular and emerging destinations faster.

RELATED: New year means new airlines, new flights and new technology for CVG

Credit goes to cargo

She credits CVG's efforts to grow its cargo operations as one of the reasons it's been able to add so many new flights.

"The more cargo airplanes we get in here, the overall lower costs it is to operate the airport generally," she says. "It keeps our costs low to also go out and attract additional passenger carriers."

CVG is home to DHL's largest operating facility in the Americas and also has Amazon's largest air hub. McGraw says both businesses are expanding their operations at the airport and there's more to come.

Late last year, the aviation maintenance company FEAM broke ground at the airport to build an over $40 million airplane hangar for large cargo planes. The new hangar will be the second FEAM hangar built at CVG.

All of the new developments in recent years have made CVG the fastest-growing cargo airport in the country.

Challenges ahead

That growth also requires the airport to think differently about the traveling experience. McGraw says hiring and keeping employees on staff has been challenging, and that likely won't change in the near future.

In response, CVG has invested in new technology and is introducing autonomous robots for certain jobs in and outside the airport. "Grab and Go" robots can be found in Concourse B delivering food and drinks to travelers waiting at their gate.

Outside, self-driving baggage tractors are being tested and may eventually be used to transport luggage to and from planes. A new robotic dog is also being tested and trained to beef up security along the airport's perimeter.

RELATED: CVG pilots technology to help you travel safely with COVID and beyond

Although the future is looking bright for CVG, it may soon encounter some challenges in its cargo operations as workers at the airport's DHL facility and Amazon Air Hub have begun to discuss and build momentum toward forming a workers union.

McGraw declined to comment on unionization efforts.

Zack Carreon is Education reporter for WVXU, covering local school districts and higher education in the Tri-State area.