Pittsburgh to host G20 summit; airport traffic down 55% from 90s heyday

Image: Pittsburgh
In June, Delta began five-times weekly services from Pittsburgh to Paris. It’s the only scheduled route from Pittsburgh to Europe – made possible by Delta’s successful joint venture with Air France.

Image: Pittsburgh summitLater this month Pittsburgh will play host to a G20 summit of world leaders. One of the reasons President Obama chose it as the venue was to highlight the city’s recovery following the decline in its manufacturing business in the second half of the 20th century. Sadly, traffic at city’s airport has yet to show a similar recovery from the heady days of 20 million annual passengers during most of the 90s and up to as recently as 2001. Since then US Airways has dramatically cut back its operations at the airport and last year the airport handled just 8.7 million passengers

Chart: 80 08
Source: Pittsburgh Airport

In the first half of 2009 traffic is down a further 10.4% to 3.92 million passengers. However, thanks to an increase in low-cost services by the likes of AirTran, jetBlue and Southwest O&D (origin and destination) traffic has increased from just over six million in the late 90s to over eight million in 2007.

US Airways still #1 but still cutting routes

US Airways which used to completely dominate services from the airport, has been cutting flights from the airport ever since 2001. Latest figures for the first half of 2009 show that it is still the leading airline, but that it now carries just three in every 10 passengers passing through the airport.

Chart: Top 12
Source: Pittsburgh Airport

AirTran has seen its passenger numbers increase by 34% in 2009 and is now ranked fifth at the airport with Delta and United in its sights. In October it adds Milwaukee bringing to five the number of destinations served from Pittsburgh.

Since last September US Airways has cut a further nine destinations from its network, though seven of them are still served by other carriers.

Destination US Airways weekly
frequency (Sep 08)
Remaining carriers
(weekly frequencies)
Newark (EWR) 19 Continental (44)
Fort Lauderdale (FLL) 7 AirTran (4)
Indianapolis (IND) 8 Republic (6)
Los Angeles (LAX) 8 United (7)
Orlando (MCO) 10 Southwest (21)
Harrisburg (MDT) 3 None
Richmond (RIC) 3 None
San Francisco (SFO) 8 United (7)
Tampa (TPA) 6 Southwest (13)
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 7 September 2009 and w/c 1 September 2008

US Airways now operates non-stop to just 10 destinations from Pittsburgh, although on five of these routes (Boston, Charlotte, New York LaGuardia, Philadelphia and Washington National) it flies at least five times daily.

The Los Angeles and San Francisco routes ended in mid-August when Star Alliance partner United took over the services. These new non-stop service from United will make Pittsburgh one of just 15 airports across the US which has service to all five of United’s hubs in Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington.

Southwest, already the second biggest carrier at the airport, only began flights to Pittsburgh in May 2005. It offers non-stop services to just seven destinations; Baltimore/Washington, Chicago Midway, Las Vegas, Orlando, Philadesphia, Phoenix and Tampa. JetBlue, which started serving Pittsburgh on 30 June 2006 currently offers daily connections to Boston and New York JFK using its smaller Embraer 190s.

Delta launched new Paris service in June

Ad: Pittsburgh to ParisPittsburgh has just four scheduled international services. Air Canada serves Toronto with three daily flights while USA 3000 serves Cancun (Mexico) and Punta Cana (Domincan Republic) with less than daily flights. In early June Delta launched the airport’s only current transatlantic service to Paris CDG, operating five daily flights with 757s.

Fares have fallen significantly

Five years ago the average fare from Pittsburgh was 20% above the national average, but in just three years the airport’s fares fell to below the national average. This is still the case as the airport’s airline mix has embraced a higher proportion of low-fare airlines and US Airways’ dominant position has been eroded.

Period     (ranking) Average Fare Fare Premium
All Markets
Fare Premium
Short-Haul
Fare Premium
Long-Haul
2004 Q1 $199 +22% +58% -3%
2005 Q1 $183 +19% +46% +0%
2006 Q1 (#32) $174 +4% +24% -9%
2007 Q1 (#71) $151 -7% -3% -10%
2008 Q1 (#59) $165 -4.8% +0.6% -8.3%
2008 Q2 (#56) $174 -3.8% +3.4% -8.8%
2008 Q3 (#61) $180 -4.6% +1.0% -8.6%
2008 Q4 (#72) $168 -4.5% -0.6% -7.3%
Source: US DOT Office of Aviation Analysis

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