GREEN  Consolidations by airliners has left the Akron Canton Airport with fewer passengers the past few years.

In 2012, Southwest and AirTran merged, followed by Southwest departing the airport for good in June 2017. Also in 2017, the airport lost Allegiant Airlines. Picking up some of the flights lost has been Spirit, United and American Airlines as they visit many of the places Southwest once did, just less frequently.

The airport saw more than 1.8 million passengers in 2012, the most in its history. Those numbers have dropped off each year since, with only 1.2 million in 2017.

Akron-Canton Airport President Rick McQueen said there has been a lot of consolidation in the airliner industry and there are cycles when it comes to the industry.

"We aren’t the only airport this size seeing this," McQueen said.

McQueen sees growth in the future though. United Airlines announced this year they will start a flight to Houston in June. He expects the number of passengers to rebound either late this year or early next year.

McQueen said if business can grow in Northeast Ohio then the population will increase. He said Akron-Canton is a robust area that will see growth between the oil and gas industry along with the Hall of Fame Village, which is under construction.

"The Hall of Fame Village could make for this area to be a destination," McQueen said.

He said things change and there are cycles in the airline industry just like any other business.

Despite Akron-Canton Airport’s declines, Cleveland Hopkins has seen its passenger numbers increase. Hopkins saw more than 9.1 million passengers in 2017. The airport had dropped to 7.6 million passengers in 2014.

"We have got to be positive and realize the return to growth will occur," McQueen said.