CEO: New flights, ultra low-fare carriers fueling Authority growth
January 20, 2017 10:45 PM
Scott Olson/Getty Images
With the addition of ultra low-fare carriers like Allegiant and Frontier at Pittsburgh International Airport, the airport authority feels passenger volumes will continue to grow.
By Mark Belko / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Fueled by a bevy of new flights, Pittsburgh International Airport ended 2016 with its highest traveler volume in eight years.
In all, 8.3 million passengers boarded or got off planes at the Findlay airport last year, a 2.2 percent increase over 2015 totals, the Allegheny County Airport Authority announced Friday.
It marks the third straight year that passenger volume has increased after years of decline caused by cutbacks from US Airways, now part of American Airlines, and huge losses in connecting traffic.
The 8.3 million travelers who used the airport last year add up to the most since 2008, when 8.7 million passengers boarded or got off planes.
“I feel like we’ve turned the corner,” said Christina Cassotis, the airport authority’s CEO. “Watching years of decline and then some leveling out, I feel like we’re finally on the upturn.”
With the addition of ultra low-fare carriers like Allegiant and Frontier at the airport, as well as new transatlantic service beginning this summer to Iceland and Frankfurt, Germany, Ms. Cassotis believes passenger volumes will continue to grow.
“I think we will see passengers continue to be stimulated in this market, meaning people who wouldn’t have traveled are now going to start traveling because of services that are now available.”
Over the last two years, Pittsburgh International has been able to increase the number of nonstop destinations served from 37 to 68, although some of those are seasonable in nature.
The airport was able to post the gains despite continuing cuts by American, which is ending nonstop service to Los Angeles next month and has trimmed other flights. American’s traffic was down 14 percent last year.
But that was offset by big gains by Allegiant, which was up 121.6 percent. Southwest was up 10.5 percent and JetBlue 6.4 percent.
Even though traffic has increased at Pittsburgh International, it still pales compared to the airport’s heyday as a hub when more than 20 million passengers boarded and got off planes annually. At one time, the number of nonstop destinations that could be reached from the airport totaled more than 100.
Mark Belko: email@example.com or 412-263-1262.
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