|- A hallway lined with luggage, leading to unused gates that once served Comair flights at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport's Concourse C.|
Four runways criss-cross the grounds of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG). Among them, in an island by itself, is the former "Concourse C." Once a gateway containing portals to destinations across the United States - it now sits quietly with luggage lining the hallways and benches stacked atop each other in closed shops and eateries. The lonely aerodrome is absent of both people and flights, both of which have relocated to the airport's main facilities.
|- Concourse C's entrance.|
This island amongst a sea of asphalt and concrete was once a center of human activity. It was reached via shuttle busses from the main airport. The yellow arrows still guide the few visitors it gets these days to its automatic doors that no longer respond to the approach of a human body.
|- The main lobby.|
Our guide lets us inside. The concourse has been abandoned, but the lights are still on. The articulated roof and lines of the ceiling point toward the building's center: a tower displaying three banks of blank television screens that no longer need to update anyone on departures or arrivals.
|- Flight information center.|
Most of the former shops have their metal cages rolled down - some of them relocated with the remaining flights to the main airport, while others simply left.
The narrow hallways give way to wide open spaces that had once been crowded with passengers waiting for their flights.
You're not sure how to talk while you're in there. You want to whisper, to maintain the quiet that surrounds you. You know it's a stark contrast to what once was a building that flurried with human activity and conversation.
|- Boarding area.|
The restaurants, they're gone too, leaving traces of their corporate logos and branding.
|- Former McDonald's dining area.|
Information desks, pay phones and restaurant tables gather dust with no one to occupy them anymore.
Microphones sit idly at their stations, no longer needed to amplify boarding calls.
|- A microphone once used at one of the gates.|
Discarded and forgotten luggage lines the halls - now used by airport police to train contraband sniffing canines.
|- One of Concourse C's wings.|
|- Boarding area. The random boxes and luggage scattered about are now used to train police dogs.|
In the corner lies a small bar themed after a "european pub." Once a place for passengers to grab a drink before their next peregrination or to swap stories with strangers, it's now just storage for discarded equipment.
|- "The Pub, " a regional chain of British-inspired bars once had a location at CVG.|
And above it all on the next floor up: offices and lounges yellowed over from years of crew member and pilot cigarette break smoke. Then there's the tower. While not the main center of the airport's activity, this is place where the operations of the concourse's aircraft were supervised.
|- Concourse C's tower.|
It's not my first time being in a closed off section of CVG. A few years back, a QC/D source toured myself and some other photographers around some of the airport's other closed areas. In that article, I implied that CVG was "downsizing" and maybe even "dying." It's an implication I'd like to retract - CVG isn't dying, but as I stood there in the quietness of Concourse C I once again realized that things aren't as they once were and the airport isn't like it once was.
|- What's left of the former "Bluegrass Brewing Company."|
You can read the previous article for a bit of a history lesson on why Cincinnati, Ohio's airport is in neighboring Northern Kentucky and get a clue was to why so much of it has been abandoned. To make a long story short: flights at CVG have been scaled back dramatically over the past few years. As you walk through the quiet, abandoned corridors of Concourse C, it's hard to imagine that you're at an airport that reportedly once had more daily international flights than New York City's JFK.
|- "Sue Venir's," a former souvenir and travel shop.|
CVG is a Delta Airlines hub. At one point, it boasted three terminals and three concourses to handle all of its daily flights and a peak of 22 million annual passengers in 2005. Today, the airport's operations and flights have all been relocated into terminal 3 (now known as: the main terminal) and its two concourses. Concourse B houses all Delta and Delta Connection flights, while Concourse A houses all other carriers including the recently added Allegiant Airlines. To understand the abandonment of Concourse C though, you have to look back to 1977 with the founding of Comair.
|- Empty newspaper stands in one of the concourse's boarding a|
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio - Comair was a regional airline formed by the father/son team of Raymond and David Mueller. By the early 80's, Comair formed a partnership with Delta Airlines and had gone public as a company. In September of 1994, Comair opened its second hub: Concourse C at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. Initially built with 53 gates, the concourse served as the central location for all of the airline's flights in and out of CVG. In 2000, Comair was completely purchased by Delta airlines and it became a subsidiary and compliment to Delta's regional "Delta Connection" service.
For 14 years, Comair operated its CVG flights solely out of Concourse C while the company's headquarters could be seen in the distance across the neighboring runway. Unlike CVG's other concourses which are connected via an underground train, Concourse C could only be accessed via a shuttle bus service. Upon arrival to the concourse though, travelers had a wide selection of retail and dining establishments as well as smoking areas. Despite how packed the corridors of the concourse would often get though, things were not boding well for Delta who declared bankruptcy in 2005, bringing Comair with it.
|- "Moe's," which was one of the concourse's many restaurants.|
In 2008, citing increasingly rising fuel costs, Delta announced that it was cutting flights and pulling Comair out of Concourse C despite emerging from bankruptcy protection the year prior. Comair's flights were relocated to the main Terminal 3, emptying Concourse C by January of 2009. By 2012, after years of steady layoffs and flight reduction, Delta completely shutdown and folded its Comair brand.
|- Several of the concourse's waiting benches stacked out of sight.|
These days, you can still catch a glimpse of Concourse C out the window of your flight - it's the island in the stream of runways, a time capsule of different times. Gone are the people who used to pass through its corridors, smoking rooms and bars on their way to parts unknown. The aircraft - they're parked over at the recently renovated main terminal, where the airport is launching a new future and a new direction. Meanwhile, Concourse C sits quietly amongst the tarmac and it's not going anywhere anytime soon - Delta has a lease on the building until 2025.
|- Looking out from Concourse C towards the rest of the airport.|
Part 3: The Film