PIT January passenger count lower than 3 years ago

PIT January passenger count lower than 3 years ago

The long-awaited January passenger and operations data from Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) were released March 6.  The numbers showed some slight improvement from pre-pandemic levels but were still well below the January 2020 level—the month news of the COVID virus was making headlines and before air travel in the United States was affected.  Indeed, the passenger count at PIT was higher in January 2020 than in January 2019.

The January 2023 domestic passenger count was 11.9 percent behind the January 2020 total and still 9.2 percent lower than January 2019.  Thus, three years after the pandemic started to impact travel, the domestic count at PIT remains nearly 12 percent lower than January 2020 and four years from January 2019 is still down over 9 percent.

The numbers for international passengers are even worse in January 2023. From January 2020 the count is down 30 percent and from January 2019 trails by 20.4 percent.  While recovery has occurred since the very hard-hit months from March 2020 through January of 2021, the recovery to pre-pandemic levels has far to go.

Total passengers—domestic and international total—fell short of January 2020 by 12.2 and 9.3 percent from January 2019.  By comparison, the Nashville airport had an increase of 11.3 percent in total passengers from January 2020 to January 2023 and a 25.6 percent rise since January 2019. This clearly shows the importance of employment gains in air travel.  The Pittsburgh area jobs are virtually stagnant while Nashville has seen very large gains.

Finally, note that the January 2023 passenger count problems at PIT are accompanied by a drop in aircraft operations. Compared to January 2020, operations at PIT are 18.2 percent lower than 36 months before and 15.5 percent behind the 48-month-ago level.

In sum, activity at PIT is recovering very slowly from the pandemic. It lags the national turnaround and trails dramatically behind areas that have growing economies.