Delta will renew direct flight to Paris

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The 20th anniversary of Pittsburgh International Airport's midfield terminal arrived Monday with a bit of good news -- Delta Air Lines' nonstop flight to Paris will return for another year.

Delta will operate the flight from May through October next year, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced during ceremonies commemorating the terminal's anniversary.

The new schedule will be about a month and a half shorter than this year's. After a winter hiatus, the flight resumed this year on March 24 and will operate until the last departure on Oct. 25.

In 2013, the flight is scheduled to start on May 12 and run until the last week of October. Delta plans to operate the service five days a week through most of the season, from June until Oct. 25, spokesman Anthony Black said.

This year, the flight started at four days a week, expanded to five during the summer, and now is back at four.

By starting in May next year, Delta is hoping to hit "the sweet spot" in terms of passenger demand, Mr. Black said. In the past, the flight has started slower in March and April before demand built, he said. With the new schedule, Delta is hoping there will be enough demand to support the flight five days a week though most of the season, Mr. Black said.

Delta launched the nonstop flight from Pittsburgh to Charles de Gaulle International Airport in June 2009, backed by $9 million in subsidies from the state and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.

The airline had the right to drop the flight after the subsidies expired in June 2011. Instead, it decided to continue the flight another year on a seasonal basis, with service suspended during the winter months.

Before Delta launched the nonstop to Paris, Pittsburgh hadn't had a direct connection to Europe since November 2004 when US Airways dropped service to London and Frankfurt.

For businesses, such direct connections are critical because they allow employees to avoid the hassle of time-consuming connections that eat into productivity.

While Bayer Corp. in the past has pushed for a direct flight to Germany, where its world headquarters is located, the company is "pleased that there is nonstop service [to Paris] and we're pleased that it's still continuing," said spokeswoman Katie Kirkpatrick. Bayer has a campus in Robinson.

"As a German company, we would love to have a nonstop to Germany but we're still glad there is a nonstop to Europe," she said.

During Monday's ceremonies, Republic Airways also announced that it would be adding 200 jobs in Pittsburgh when it expands its maintenance operations here next year. The airline is adding a third hangar at the airport under a five-year lease approved in June.

businessnews

Mark Belko: mbelko@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1262.


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