(Cleveland) - United Airlines says it will drop its money-losing flight hub in Cleveland, slashing its daily flights and eliminating 470 jobs.

The company's CEO Jeff Smisek says in a letter to employees that the Cleveland hub has not been profitable in over a decade and has lost the company tens of millions of dollars in recent years.

Beginning in April, Chicago-based United will begin phasing out Cleveland as a connection for fliers coming from other airports around the country.

United employees contacted by Newsradio WTAM 1100 say they are not allowed to talk to the media.

Greater Cleveland Partnership President and CEO issued a statement regarding the decision by United Airlines.

Joe Roman says the Partnership will be working with the City of Cleveland, the State of Ohio, and other partners over the coming months and years to attract additional air service to Hopkins Airport.

Roman contends they have a very strong case for that. While he admits the decision by United is unfortunate, they knew it was one of the possible consequences of the United-Continental merger.

Roman contends airport is improved, costs are down, and has more traffic-generating assets, plus the business community is mobilized and committed.

Roman maintains their goal is to minimize the impact on travelers and to ensure convenient and affordable air service.

With billions of dollars in new development throughout the region, Roman says there will be increased demand for air travel in Cleveland.

By 2016, he expects tourism to dramatically increase, with new hotels, and attractions like the Horseshoe Casino, the Cleveland Convention Center, and the global center for health innovation.

Roman maintains the Partnership will be working with city, state, and business leaders over the coming months and years to attract additional air service to Hopkins Airport.

In interviews with Newsradio WTAM 1100, former Cleveland Mayoral candidate Ken Lanci claims the layoffs could have been avoided if the current administration had worked closer with United.

Lanci also feels money from the Cuyahoga County Sin Tax could have been used to help the struggling airline instead of being given to Cleveland’s three major sports teams.

Councilman Zack Reed who sits on the Transportation Committee partly blames federal regulations for making the United hub unprofitable. Reed contends Mayor Frank Jackson has done his best keep the hub in operation.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson is to hold a press conference Monday morning at 11. You can hear it live on Newsradio WTAM 1100.

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(Photos by Ken Robinson/WTAM)

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