Misplaced Priorities at the Airport
When the Allegheny County Airport Authority hired its new CEO back in January of this year, they did so with the goal of improving flights and service from Pittsburgh International Airport. And they paid handsomely for this hire. In a newspaper interview, she stated that “she hopes to attract more West Coast destinations, more international and regional flights…”
Since then some direct flights to vacation destinations were added on discount airlines on a seasonal basis. Flights to Toronto have begun as well as a business-orientated carrier which started offering specialty flights amid small jets to Indianapolis and Milwaukee with the promise of adding more destinations as demand is warranted. These flights are based on traveler demand and represent a small fraction of PIT’s origination and destination traffic.
But the focus from the new CEO has been on international flights. They have focused on the Middle East (Qatar) and this week, she is in South Africa attending the World Routes conference to pitch other international destinations from PIT. However, while on this junket, Delta Airlines has pulled the plug on domestic flights to Cincinnati, while other direct flights via an American Airlines’ regional carrier to St. Louis, and Hartford have also recently been scuttled. The Cincinnati flight was offered six days a week and according to reports averaged less than 25 passengers per flight. While a spokesperson blamed this loss on a pilot shortage, the numbers are more indicative of a lack of demand.
As we have said in past research, until the local business economy begins to strengthen which should subsequently increase the demand for travel, the problems at PIT will continue. PIT should not be chasing flights, international or domestic. If the passenger demand is there, these flights will be chasing PIT.