Airport traffic woes can’t be blamed on former CEO

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I had the opportunity to work with Bradley Penrod (“Ex-CEO Out at the Airport Authority,” March 15) while he was deputy director and director of the airport. Let me assure you that the continuing decline in airport traffic is in no way a result of anything Brad may or may not have done.

Pittsburgh is a relatively small city that has little in the way of “destination” incentives for tourists. Business travel is being supplanted by video conferencing and other technologies and is being scaled back by companies around the world. The airlines have figured out how much capacity is required from here by the seats available to virtually any destination on the day of departure.

Although I don’t in any way speak for British Airways, the Pittsburgh/​London route was underutilized because loyalty programs of the very dominant carrier, US Airways, encouraged passengers to fly to Philadelphia then to London (and other European cities). That’s what the loyalty programs are for.

For an airport to work as a hub you need originating traffic, destination traffic and transfer traffic. The size of our city and its catchment area precludes the first two, which means the hub concept here was destined to fail from the start. Throwing all that money at a new airport and at US Airways in incentives was not Brad’s decision.

Our airport is served by every major airline in the United States. Which discount airline would we have Brad bring in to one of the most expensive-to-operate-from airports in the world?


The writer is British Airways’ former manager at Pittsburgh International and its former business manager for North America.

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