Passenger traffic at Pittsburgh International Airport increases
But lags growth in similar markets
February 12, 2016 11:44 PM
By Mark Belko / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh International Airport racked up an increase in passenger traffic for the second straight year in 2015, but its top executive isn’t exactly breaking out the champagne.
The total number of travelers using the airport last year hit 8.1 million, a 1.6 percent increase over 2014, when passenger volume finished just under 8 million. Last year was the first year since 2012 that the total number of travelers topped 8 million.
Despite the improvement, Christina Cassotis, Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO, wasn’t all that impressed.
“I’m not disappointed, but I’m eager to see them improve,” she said.
Ms. Cassotis said increases in passenger volume help to attract and retain airlines. Carriers, she said, look for high yields — or how much people are paying for tickets — and high load factors — or how full the planes are — in considering markets,
Passenger traffic at airports in other medium-size markets like Pittsburgh has been growing by 3 percent to 5 percent a year, she noted.
“The bar is high for new service and retaining service because there are a lot of opportunities for the airlines,” she said.
Ms. Cassotis believes the numbers will pick up with the burst of new service that has been landing in Pittsburgh. During the past 13 months, the airport has added 21 routes, and OneJet and Frontier Airlines plan to launch flights to five destinations each from Pittsburgh this year.
“What I’m really encouraged by is that the growth [in passengers] continues to improve. In other words, it’s a slower pace than I would love but I believe it will continue to pick up speed,” Ms. Cassotis said.
Passenger volume is still way down compared with the airport’s heyday as a hub for US Airways, when the total number of travelers routinely topped 20 million a year.
At one time, the airport handled 633 flights a day to 114 destinations. Even with the recent improvements, it still falls far short of those numbers, with 148 daily departures and 54 destinations.
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