Monday, June 23, 2008

Laid Over

I was catching up on the Pittsburgh news while sitting in Atlanta's MASSIVE airport waiting for a flight to Columbia, SC and thought it would be a good opportunity to comment on Pittsburgh's Air Travel situation.

Our airport is FANTASTIC. It really is, security is quick and courteous (particularly if you're in the know about the "alternative security checkpoint), the selection of stores and restaurants rivals airports twice its size, there is plenty of room to sit and plenty of gates. A few of these have primarily to do with the fact that it is under utilized, but many of them are simply because the airport was well designed. Additionally, there are more direct flights then you realize. This project in Columbia is the first time in the last 2 years I've had to accept non-direct flights. Ok, that's all I've got on good news.

Now the bad. It's hardly even an international airport is the biggest one. In researching, I checked US Airway's map and Delta's Map and found only 1 oversees flight (a Delta flight to Dusseldorf Germany). This needs to change and the best way to do it is with international carriers. If we can attract foreign airlines who only want to have a few flights to the states to include Pittsburgh in their plans, we can leverage that to encourage affiliated domestic airlines to have more Pittsburgh flights. For example, US Airways is part of the Star Alliance. If Pittsburgh did whatever it took to encourage Asiana and Air New Zealand (fellow alliance members) to fly to Pittsburgh. It would increase the demand from those customers to have connecting flights all over the US.

More bad news, we don't have the exposure to domestic discount airlines (primarily Jet Blue and Southwest). While Philadelphia is building a new terminal for Jet Blue, we have exactly two direct destinations, TWO.

So will this get any better. I'll be the first to admit that I don't know for sure. What I do appreciate though, is that Captain Drink Tax (Dan Onorato) is doing all that he can to address both the first issue and the second. I don't hear the mayor talking about it as much, though this may have to do with the airport not being within the city limits. I am hopeful that things will improve, we have far to nice of an airport to be used as little as it is.

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