Pittsburgh International Airport

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"PIT" redirects here. For the United States Air Force facility at PIT, see Pittsburgh IAP Air Reserve Station. For other uses, see PIT (disambiguation).
Pittsburgh International Airport
PIT Airport Logo.svg
Pittsburgh International Airport aerial view.jpg
IATA: PITICAO: KPITFAA LID: PIT
WMO: 94823
Summary
Airport type Public / Military
Owner Allegheny County
Operator Allegheny County Airport Authority
Serves Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Location Findlay Township /
Moon
Elevation AMSL 1,204 ft / 367 m
Coordinates 40°29′29″N 080°13′58″W / 40.49139°N 80.23278°W / 40.49139; -80.23278
Website FlyPittsburgh.com
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
10R/28L 11,500 3,505 Concrete
10C/28C 10,775 3,284 Asphalt/Concrete
10L/28R 10,502 3,201 Asphalt/Concrete
14/32 8,101 2,469 Concrete
Helipads
Number Length Surface
ft m
H1 60 18 Concrete
Statistics (2010)
Total passengers[1] 8,195,359
Aircraft operations[1] 144,563
Total Cargo (metric tonnes)[1] 77,335
Main airlines Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways
Sources: FAA,[2] ACI,[1] Airport website.[3]

Pittsburgh International Airport (IATA: PITICAO: KPITFAA LID: PIT), formerly Greater Pittsburgh Airport, Greater Pittsburgh International Airport and commonly referred to as Pittsburgh International, is a civil–military international airport in the Pittsburgh suburbs of Findlay Township and Moon Township, about 20 miles (30 km) west of downtown Pittsburgh at Exit 53 of I-376 and the north end of PA Turnpike 576 (Future I-576).

Overview[edit]

The airport is encircled by I-376 and I-376-B which is the main access for Airport Cargo and Servicing as well as other flight industries. It is owned by Allegheny County and operated by the Allegheny County Airport Authority which also operates the Allegheny County Airport. PIT is primarily a passenger airport serving the Pittsburgh metropolitan area with 160 non-stop flights per day to 36 destinations on twelve airlines.[4] It also is the home of Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station, a combined facility of the Air Force Reserve Command and the Air National Guard, providing aerial refueling, air mobility and tactical airlift support to the U.S. Air Force and other U.S. Department of Defense activities. Finally, the airport also has an air cargo facility and supports general aviation operations.

Airside Terminal, with the Alexander Calder mobile Pittsburgh on display in center.

PIT is the second busiest passenger airport in Pennsylvania and 47th-busiest in the United States, serving 8,041,357 passengers in 2012.[5] The airport has the longest runways of a commercial airport in Pennsylvania at 11,500 feet (3,500 m). Until 2004 US Airways' largest hub was at PIT. In 2010 the airline remains PIT's largest carrier (handling 26 percent[6] of passengers), though once the merger between Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways is completed the merged carrier is expected to become the largest, surpassing US Airways.[6] US Airways currently uses ten gates, more than any other airline at PIT, followed by Delta Air Lines which uses 7 gates.

The airport has flights to Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, and Europe. Nonstop transatlantic flights resumed on June 3, 2009 when Delta Air Lines began flights to Paris.[7] The new service operates 5 days a week and was made possible by Delta's successful joint-venture with Air France.[8]

PIT occupies more than 12,900 acres (52 km2), making it the fourth-largest airport by land area owned in the nation,[9] behind Denver International Airport, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Orlando International Airport.[10]

OAG Worldwide listed PIT on its short list of the world's best airports for four consecutive years. The market research leader, JD Power and Associates named PIT among the top five airports in its two most recent customer satisfaction surveys. Conde Nast Traveler's Magazine named PIT the best in the United States[11] and third in the world in its 2000 People's Choice Award. In 2011 Conde Nast Traveler ranked the facility the 7th best for business travelers.[12]

History[edit]

Early years[edit]

Until the beginning of World War II Moon Township, Pennsylvania was mostly a rural agricultural area. It was too far from downtown Pittsburgh to be the "suburb" that it is today, although it was served solely by Pittsburgh-based state and federal services and media. In the early 1920s John A. Bell of Carnegie purchased a number of small farms in Moon and established a commercial dairy farm on his 1,900 acres (8 km2) of land. He was bought out by Mr. and Mrs. E.E. Rieck and C.F. Nettrour, owners of the established "Rieck's" Dairy, who doubled the number of cattle at the farm.

Circa 1940 the Works Progress Administration (WPA) decided the Pittsburgh area needed a military airport to defend the industrial wealth of the area and to provide a training base and stop-over facility. The agricultural expanses of Moon Township were attractive to airport planners in the city. The Civil Aeronautics Administration proposed $2.6 million to the County for a $6 million field in August 1941.[13] The County bought the Bell Farm and federal agencies began construction of the runways on April 20, 1942.

In 1944 Allegheny County officials proposed to expand the military airport with the addition of a commercial passenger terminal to relieve the Allegheny County Airport, which was built in 1926 and was becoming too small. Ground was broken on the new passenger terminal on July 18, 1946. The new terminal would eventually cost $33 million and was built entirely by Pittsburgh-area companies. The new airport, christened as Greater Pittsburgh Airport (renamed Greater Pittsburgh International Airport in 1972 upon the opening of the International Arrivals Building) opened on May 31, 1952. The first flight was on June 3, 1952. In its full year of operation in 1953, over 1.4 million passengers used the terminal. "Greater Pitt" was then considered modern and spacious. The airport terminal was the largest in the United States, second only to Idlewild Airport's (now JFK Airport) in New York when it was completed five years later.[14][15] The airport's capacity is one of its most valuable assets.

A replica of PIT's original terrazzo compass located in the new main terminal

The airport was designed by a local architect named Joseph W. Hoover. One of the features of his style is the use of simple, exposed concrete, steel, and glass materials. The terminal building was constructed in "stepped" levels: the first floor extended farther than the second, the second floor extended farther than the third, etc. Such a design meant that the uncovered roof of the lower level could be an observation deck. In addition to the observation decks, the rounded "Horizon Room" was on the fourth floor with a commanding view of the airport. The interior of the terminal building was in the International Style, as was the exterior. One of the memorable features of the lobby was the large compass laid in the floor with the green and yellow-orange terrazzo. A mobile by Alexander Calder was another decorative feature of the lobby. The mobile currently hangs in the center core of the new airside terminal, and a re-creation of the compass was installed in the new terminal at an exhibit dedicated to old "Greater Pitt."[citation needed]

Growth of a Major Airport[edit]

The first five airlines of the Greater Pittsburgh Airport were TWA, Capital Airlines (later part of United), Northwest, All American (later Allegheny Airlines, then USAir, and finally US Airways), and Eastern Airlines. The April 1957 Airline Guide shows 58 weekday departures on Capital, 54 TWA, 18 Allegheny, 8 United, 7 Eastern, 4 Northwest, 3 American and 2 Lake Central. Eastern had nonstops to Miami, but westward nonstops didn't reach beyond St Louis—though TWA had an overnight 1049G nonstop from Los Angeles ("Berths Available"). The first jets were TWA 707s around August 1959.

The 1956 airport diagram shows runway 10/28 7500 ft, 5/23 5766 ft and 14/32 5965 ft. The longest runway was still 7500 ft when jets started in 1959 but was soon extended to 8000 ft; 10500-ft runway 10L was added by 1965.

In 1959 the east dock was added to the terminal, and on July 25, 1959 TWA started Boeing 707 flights to Pittsburgh. On July 1, 1968 international airport status was obtained with the dedication of the first customs office at the complex.[16] Ground was broken for the International Wing, west of the original terminal building, on July 8, 1970. It opened in 1972 to accommodate federal inspection services and expanded international travel.

Greater Pittsburgh Airport, circa 1977.

From the 1960s to about 1985, Trans World Airlines had a hub at Pittsburgh. Destinations included major and secondary US Cities and the airports first direct transatlantic flights (Frankfurt starting in June, 1978 and London starting in May 1981).[17][18]

In 1972 rotundas were added to the end of each dock to expand the number of gates. In the later 1970s growth in regional air travel created a need for more gates. In 1980 the South East Dock was opened. Even with these expansions, the terminal was too small. In 1987, with the financial backing of USAir (then the dominant carrier in Pittsburgh), work commenced on a billion dollar expansion project.

In 1985 the first Transatlantic flight on a foreign airline came to Pittsburgh: British Airways started service using Boeing 747-200s. The initial route was Pittsburgh to London-Heathrow with a stop in Washington, D.C. The stop was later changed to Philadelphia. Later, British Airways moved the non-stop flight to London-Gatwick, with a change to London-Heathrow again with a stop in Montreal during the winter. The airline ended service at Pittsburgh on October 31, 1999. In 2000, US Airways picked up the route to London-Gatwick but canceled it in 2004 due to extensive downsizing.

On October 1, 1992 the new complex opened and all operations transferred over from the old terminal overnight. The old terminal remained standing until 1999 to house remaining operations offices. The new terminal had numerous innovative, state-of-the-art features, including an AirMall with over 100 retailers and eateries (more defined in Passenger Complex section of this article). The new Landside/Airside design construction eliminated the need for connecting passengers to go through security again. The Airside Terminal at Pittsburgh International, which was designed by Tasso Katselas Associates, Inc.,[19] became a model for other airports around the world, specifically in designs that simplified aircraft movement on the airfield and enabled easy pedestrian traffic to the gates.

Decline of US Airways[edit]

By the late 1990s growth had leveled off, with USAir (later US Airways) concentrating on expanding at Philadelphia and Charlotte/Douglas International Airport. In 1997, the airport handled almost 21 million passengers, the largest number of passengers served in one year since the airport's opening.[20][21] Tough economic conditions for airlines at the start of the 21st century, the September 11 attacks, and high operating costs at the airport put the US Airways hub in Pittsburgh at a serious disadvantage. By 2003, US Airways reported to be running a $40 million loss per year operating its hub at Pittsburgh[22] while paying roughly 80% of the new airport's $673 million debt stemming from its requested construction of the new terminals.[23] After failed negotiations to lower landing fees and debt obligation, the airline announced in 2004 that it would be substantially reducing its operations at Pittsburgh, shifting operations to Charlotte and Philadelphia.[24] By the end of 2005, the airline had eliminated 7,000 jobs while only operating roughly 200 flights per day, which were primarily domestic flights.[25] All service to Europe had ceased to operate. A year later, the airline had only about 170 flights per day to and from Pittsburgh, most being domestic flights.[26] Unrelenting flight and job cuts continued through the decade, as well as closure of Concourse E on the Landside Terminal and Concourse A on the Airside Terminal. By the end of the decade, the only US Airways operations that remained were 68 flights per day, operating from ten gates on Concourse B, and one US Airways Club location. Numerous US Airways ticketing and customer service counters were abandoned, and 15 gates on Concourse A and B were sealed off from the rest of the airport.[27]

Rise of Other Carriers[edit]

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 Pulling into the gate from Orlando, FL

While US Airways made immense cuts in service during the early 21st century, other carriers began to play a more dominant role at PIT. The airport's operator, the Allegheny County Airport Authority, has attempted to attract new service to the airport, particularly low-cost and international carriers. AirTran Airways, which initially had trouble competing in Pittsburgh after beginning service in 2000, was finally able to successfully expand Pittsburgh offerings after the US Airways' cuts. In 2003, USA3000 Airlines began service to Florida and subsequently expanded to include international destinations in the Caribbean. Southwest Airlines began service to Pittsburgh in May 2005 and broke US Airways's monopolies on Tampa, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Philadelphia, along with bringing more competition to the Chicago and Orlando markets. JetBlue Airways began service on June 30, 2006 with flights to Boston-Logan and New York-Kennedy, thus in turn breaking US Airways' monopoly on Boston and added more competition to the New York market. Myrtle Beach Direct Air began service in March 2007 and broke US Airways's monopoly on Myrtle Beach. Combined increases in competition and diversification of carriers at the airport led to a decline in average airfares by roughly 30%, lowering notoriously high fares once commonplace for the airport.[22]

Airport Property Development[edit]

Aside from commercial flights, other resources in and around the airport have been developed in recent years. In November 2008, the airport, helped by the volunteer ambassadors, opened a new Military Comfort Center at Gate A4 to serve traveling military and their families. Dick's Sporting Goods constructed a new global headquarters and hangar on the airport complex in early 2010.[28] A major logistics center was constructed and opened in 2010.[29]

Since 1997, US Airways has maintained its OpsCenter in the metro Pittsburgh area. After the merger with America West the airline had two centers both with limited (pre-merger) capacity, the other being America West's inherited center near Phoenix. Pittsburgh International won a three way competition between Phoenix and Charlotte for the new combined airlines state of the art operations center.

In October 2007, US Airways announced that it had selected Pittsburgh as the site of its new 60,000 sq ft (5,600 m2) flight operations center, which serves as the nerve center of the airline's 1,400 daily mainline flights.[30] The $25 million, 72,000-square-foot (6,700 m2) facility on a far corner of Airport property began operations in November 2008. With a staff of over 600 specialists, it coordinates all arrivals, departures and inflight services in the global US Airways system 24 hours a day, seven days per week.[31]

Passenger complex[edit]

The airport complex consists of two main buildings, the "Landside Terminal" and the "Airside Terminal." They are linked by the Pittsburgh airport underground people mover after the security checkpoint. It is run fully by computers with no human control aside from emergencies.

Landside terminal[edit]

Part of the Landside Terminal ticketing area.

The landside terminal is the building closer to the parking areas and the entry point for passengers whose flights originate from Pittsburgh. It includes ticketing, all baggage claim areas, security checkpoints, and ground transportation such as taxi, limo, and bus service. A 331-room Hyatt Regency hotel/convention center opened on June 29, 2000 and is directly attached via moving walkway to the terminal. Several shops and cafes occupy the Landside Terminal including Travelmart, Sue Venir, City of Bridges Cafe, and Travelex currency services. There are Travelers Aid desks on the transit and baggage claim levels as well as Airport Police Headquarters.

After passing through the security checkpoint, passengers board one of two underground people movers that travel to the Airside Terminal, where all departure gates are located. The people mover system was built and operated by Bombardier Transportation and is completely controlled by computer.

Parking[edit]

PIT offers on site parking operated by the Grant Oliver Corporation and patrolled by the Allegheny County Police. Grant Oliver offers usage of a GO FAST Pass account to pay for parking electronically at the airport. Go Fast Pass customers may register their E-Zpass transponders to use with the system, although billing and other aspects of the system are entirely handled by Grant Oliver.[32] There are regular parking shuttles to the Long Term and Extended lots[33] that can be accessed from the Baggage Claim level of the Landside Terminal outside doors six and eight.

There are three options for parking: Short Term, Long Term, and Extended. The Short Term garage is attached to the Landside Terminal via the enclosed moving walkway. There are 2,100 spaces available. The Long Term section also has quick access to the enclosed moving walkway. There are 3,100 spaces available here. The Extended section does not have access to the enclosed moving walkway but does have regular parking shuttles that can be accessed from the Baggage Claim level of the Landside Terminal outside doors six and eight. There are 8,000 spaces available in the Extended lot.[33]

Airside Terminal[edit]

The Airside Terminal consists of four concourses (A, B, C, D) that hold the departure gates.[34] The center core contains the majority of the AirMall shops. There are over 100 shops including large retailers such as Swarovski, Brighton Collectibles, Brooks Brothers, Body Shop, Godiva, Lids, Ben & Jerry's, PGA Tour Shop, GNC, Brookstone, Charley's Steakhouse and Rite Aid. On the mezzanine level are the US Airways Club and a chapel. There are also Carnegie Science Center and other historic sites Pittsburgh Aviation History Displays located throughout the airport.

Gate A5 (Southwest).

During the planning phases there were provisions for a future second airside terminal that would be placed beyond the current "X" shaped airside terminal with a "Y" shape. The people mover was built so that it could be extended to the new airside terminal if it was ever built. With the decline in traffic and closure of parts of the A and B concourse, this never materialized. There were outlines of this proposed second terminal published on the diagram of the then new terminal in the Greater Pittsburgh Yellow Pages around the time that the new airport was opened.

Terminal information[edit]

The airport has 87 gates on four Concourses, however only 74 gates are currently available for use.

Concourse A[edit]

Concourse A has 25 gates: A1–A25. During US Airways hub operations, the airline utilized all 25 gates and operated a US Airways Club. The Concourse is now utilized by Air Canada, AirTran, Southwest, and United.[35] As of August 2013, the closed off end of the concourse has been reopened for use.

Concourse B[edit]
Interior of Terminal B.

Concourse B has 25 gates: B26–B50, however only twelve gates are currently available for use: B26–B37. The far end of the Concourse has been closed off indefinitely. Like Concourse A, US Airways had utilized all 25 gates during the days of its hub at the airport and a US Airways Club. Currently, US Airways maintains gates B26-B37, the only occupant in Concourse B. Although the US Airways Club in Concourse B closed, several concessionaires still operate in the terminal.

Concourse C (International Concourse)[edit]

Concourse C has 11 gates: C51–C61. The Concourse is utilized by PEOPLExpress and Frontier as well as Delta's international arrivals. All international arrivals, except for cities with United States border preclearance, pass through Concourse C as customs and immigration is located on its lower level. Even though this is the International Concourse, there are still some domestic flights that go in and out of Terminal C. Gates C55, C57 and C59–C61 at the end of the Concourse are designated to accommodate international traffic. Gate C61 includes a dual jetway to accommodate widebody aircraft, which was originally designed for British Airways' Boeing 747, and also the US Airways' Airbus 330. The terminal also includes a children's play area, and an exhibit commemorating Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, the long-running public television series which originated from Pittsburgh.[36]

Concourse D[edit]

Concourse D has 14 gates: D76–D89. The Concourse is utilized by American, Delta, and JetBlue.

Entry to Concourse D
Concourse E[edit]

Concourse E had 22 gates: E1–E22. Concourse E was a passenger area connected to the airport's landside building and was formerly used for quick access to US Airways Express commuter aircraft. Following cuts in service by US Airways, all Concourse E gates have been closed to air traffic. Concourse E was effectively demolished in completion prior to November 1, 2011. It is now the parking lot for all Air Mall employees. A small part of the terminal not dedicated to parking, still serves as a branch for the alternate security checkpoint to cut long lines at the airport during peak travel times.

Airline lounges[edit]

US Airways has its US Airways Club on the mezzanine level of the airside terminal.[37] It is accessible by escalators in the center core area. Before a post-9/11 restructure of routes (effectively dehubbing Pittsburgh), US Airways had three clubs. The other two clubs were located on the upper levels of the A and B terminals. British Airways also had a lounge area in the C terminal during their transatlantic flight operations from Pittsburgh (1980s to late 1990s). Their lounge room is still there intact but now closed off.

The Airport Authority offers a Military Family Comfort Center near Gate A4

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Airlines Destinations Concourse/Gates
Air Canada Express Toronto-Pearson A
AirTran Airways
operated by Southwest Airlines
Atlanta, Orlando
Seasonal: Tampa (all AirTran service ends December 28, 2014)
A
American Airlines Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles (ends November 5, 2014) D
American Eagle Chicago-O'Hare, Miami, New York-JFK D
Apple Vacations
operated by Frontier Airlines
Seasonal: Cancun, Punta Cana[38] C, D
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Paris-Charles de Gaulle
Seasonal: New York-JFK, Paris-Charles de Gaulle
C, D
Delta Connection Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York-JFK, New York-LaGuardia
Seasonal: Orlando (Resumes December 20, 2014)
D
Frontier Airlines Cleveland C
JetBlue Airways Boston, Fort Lauderdale (begins October 29, 2014) D
People Express Airlines Newport News/Williamsburg (suspended September 26, 2014)[39] C
Southwest Airlines Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago-Midway, Denver, Fort Lauderdale (resumes November 2, 2014), Fort Myers, Houston-Hobby, Las Vegas, Nashville, Orlando, Phoenix, Tampa
Seasonal: West Palm Beach (Resumes March 7, 2015)
A
Sun Air International Altoona, Jamestown (begins November 1, 2014)[40] C
United Airlines Chicago-O'Hare, Denver, Houston-Intercontinental, San Francisco A
United Express Chicago-O'Hare, Denver, Houston-Intercontinental, Newark, Washington-Dulles A
US Airways Charlotte, Los Angeles (begins November 6, 2014), Philadelphia, Phoenix B
US Airways Express Boston, Charlotte, Hartford, New York-LaGuardia, Philadelphia, Raleigh/Durham, St. Louis, Washington-National B
Vacation Express Seasonal charter: Cancun (begins February 15, 2015),[41] Freeport (begins October 1, 2014),[41] Punta Cana (begins March 14, 2015)[41] C

Cargo[edit]

FedEx Express Airbus A300 plane parked at a cargo building 1.

Pittsburgh boasts a sizeable freight business, with a Free Trade zone of 5,000 acres (20 km2), access to three class-one railroad freight lines, one interstate highway, and a location just a few miles from the nation's second largest inland port.[42] The airport's three largest cargo carriers account for over 100 million pounds (45 million kg) of freight per year.[43] Three cargo buildings provide more than 183,000 square feet (17,001 m2) of warehouse capacity and over 450,000 square feet (41,806 m2) of apron space.[44]

LogisticsCentre, a master planned industrial park at the intersection of Business Route 60 and International Drive, is a 440-acre (1.8 km2) North Field site to contain 900,000 square feet (84,000 m2) of Class A warehouse, distribution and air cargo space. Current tenants include Dick's Sporting Goods new world headquarters. It is located within Foreign Trade Zone No. 33.

Pittsburgh International Airport is the main distribution point in America for Wings Logistics Cargo.[45]

A $3 million cargo complex began construction at the airport in 1987.[46]

The following major cargo airlines have regular cargo service to and from PIT. Multiple destinations are served, the usual ones are noted:

Airlines Destinations
FedEx Express Indianapolis, Memphis, Newark, Nashville
FedEx Feeder operated by Wiggins Airways State College
UPS Airlines Louisville, Philadelphia

Free Trade Zone[edit]

Pittsburgh International has 5,000 acres (20 km2) designated as a Free Trade Zone including the airport's massive fuel farm.[42]

International Food Cargo Hub[edit]

The world's leading caterer for air and business, LSG SkyChefs in 2007 chose Pittsburgh as its sole Western Hemisphere manufacturing facility. It expanded its customer service center on the cargo side of the airport by 20,000 square feet (1,900 m2) and now employs over 100 people with the capacity of making nearly 25 million meals per year for distribution to flights all over the Americas.[47] LSG SkyChefs cited the region's strategic location for air and truck transport to major suppliers and customers, as well as the airport's excellent record in maintaining and expanding capacity.

Top routes and airlines[edit]

Top Ten Busiest domestic routes Out of PIT (June 2013 – May 2014)[48]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Atlanta, GA 415,000 AirTran, Delta, Southwest
2 Charlotte, NC 357,000 US Airways
3 Chicago, IL (ORD) 275,000 American, United
4 Philadelphia, PA 187,000 US Airways
5 Chicago, IL (MDW) 186,000 Southwest
6 Orlando, FL 173,000 AirTran, Southwest, Delta
7 Dallas/Fort Worth, TX 163,000 American
8 Boston, MA 156,000 JetBlue, US Airways
9 New York, NY (LGA) 155,000 Delta, US Airways
10 Houston, TX (IAH) 147,000 United
Top Five Busiest international routes Out of PIT by Weekly Departures (June 2013)[49]
Rank Destination Departures Carriers
1 Canada Toronto-Pearson, Canada 26 Air Canada
2 France Paris-Charles de Gaulle, France 7 Delta
3 Dominican Republic Punta Cana, Dominican Republic 9 Frontier
3 The Bahamas Nassau, Bahamas 7 Delta
5 Mexico Cancun, Mexico 2 Frontier
Top airlines at PIT by daily flights (March 2014)[50]
Rank Airline Average daily flights Top destination
1 US Airways 42 Charlotte, Philadelphia
2 Delta Air Lines 29 Atlanta
3 United Airlines 26 Chicago-O'Hare, Newark
4 Southwest Airlines 24 Chicago-Midway
5 American Airlines 15 Chicago-O'Hare
6 AirTran Airways 7 Atlanta, Orlando
7 JetBlue Airways 4 Boston
8 Air Canada 3 Toronto-Pearson
9 Frontier Airlines 1 Cancun
Top airlines at PIT by passengers. (2012 Final)[51]
Rank Airline Passengers % Change % of Passengers
1 US Airways 2,065,043 Decrease0.1 25.8
2 Delta Air Lines 1,493,126 Increase3.1 18.6
3 Southwest Airlines 1,436,220 Decrease8.6 17.9
4 United Airlines 1,337,134 Increase1.9 16.7
5 Others 1,680,058 Decrease9.2 21.0

Transportation[edit]

Public transit[edit]

Bus service is also available from Downtown Pittsburgh and the city's University District (Oakland) via the Port Authority of Allegheny County's 28X Route. Mountain Line Transit's Grey Line also has service to areas south of Pittsburgh including Waynesburg, Pennsylvania; Morgantown, Fairmont, and Clarksburg, West Virginia.[52] BCTA Transit formerly served locations north and westbound from the airport.

Route Title Areas Served
Airport Flyer via West Busway
28X Universities, Downtown Pittsburgh, PIT West Busway, Duquesne Incline, Downtown Pittsburgh, Point Park University, Duquesne University, University of Pittsburgh, Oakland, Carnegie Mellon University
MountainLine Transit[52]
#29 Morgantown, PIT, Downtown Pittsburgh Clarksburg, Fairmont, Morgantown, Waynesburg, PIT, Downtown Pittsburgh

Highway connections[edit]

PIT is located at Exit 53 of Interstate 376 and the Western Terminus Pennsylvania Route 576 (future I-576), and within 10 miles (20 km) of Interstate 79 and 15 miles (24 km) of Interstate 76, the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Interstate 70 to the south and Interstate 80 to the north are both less than an hour away. Just beyond Interstates 70 and 80, Interstate 77 to the west and Interstate 68 to the south are within 90 minutes of the airport.

At present there is no rapid transit to Pittsburgh International Airport. Former Allegheny County chief executive Dan Onorato had hoped to eventually extend the Pittsburgh Light Rail system to the airport one day.[53] In 2009, Onorato along with Congressman Mike Doyle requested approximately $7 million in funding from the federal government for preliminary planning of the extension.[54] The Obama administration in 2009 also funded further research in the decade long proposal to install a Maglev line from Pittsburgh International east to Downtown Pittsburgh and the eastern suburbs of Monroeville, Pennsylvania and Greensburg, Pennsylvania. However, the assets from the planned maglev were auctioned off in late February 2012.

Innovations[edit]

Wi-Fi[edit]

Free wireless internet throughout a passenger terminal was a rarity when Pittsburgh International Airport launched the service on September 19, 2003, a service that has since been implemented at airports around the world.[55] The airport became the first in the world to offer fare alert emails on February 2, 2004.[56] The airport innovated proactive emails on airfare discounts by carrier and destination weekly. The service's success was recognized by the Airports Council International for Excellence in Marketing and Communications in 2007 as first place in North America.[57] Pittsburgh International Airport also helped to innovate electronic parking at airports nationwide with its GoFastPass system – a system similar to E-ZPass.[58]

AirMall concept[edit]

The AirMall at the airport also provided several world firsts in both featuring fair "street prices" to air travelers and being the first major and diverse shopping center located within an airport terminal when it opened in 1992 with over 100 name brand retailers.[59] Pittsburgh's AirMall has been internationally recognized for its retail operations, such as four straight first-place rankings by Airport Revenue News from 2003 through 2006.[60]

Upon opening in 1992, local shoppers were able to visit the AirMall without a boarding pass. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, only ticketed passengers and airport and airline employees were permitted to enter the AirMall. Business dropped considerably due to the tighter regulations, though it later resumed its pre-9/11 levels.

Service[edit]

Pittsburgh was one of the first airports to deploy dozens of portable defibrillators,[61] and developed the first volunteer ambassador program.[62][63] On April 17, 2007 PIT was chosen as one of three airports (along with DFW and Detroit) for a pilot program to allow guests at the airport hotel to have terminal access to the AirMall. Guests at the Hyatt Regency were able to request security passes to be able to be screened at the security checkpoint and enter the AirMall.[64]

Southwest Airlines had named its Pittsburgh base as the best in its system for 2006,[65] in its first full year of service at PIT. Among the factors in the award were on-time performance and efficient baggage service.

Aviation[edit]

The first use of the front discharge spray bars during winter weather was at Pittsburgh.[66]

Control Tower[edit]

The current control tower at the airport was completed in March 1985 as the tallest FAA owned tower at 227 feet for $12 million.[67]

Runways[edit]

FAA Airport Diagram of KPIT

PIT's airfield features a wide, open layout and four runways, including three east-west parallel runways and a fourth crosswind runway. This configuration allows for the efficient flow of air traffic in nearly any wind condition. The airport's two longest runways are 11,500 feet (3,510 m) and 10,775 feet (3,280 m) in length, allowing PIT to accommodate even the largest of commercial aircraft. However, due to the development of non-aviation related business on airport land, PIT can add only one additional runway (this number was as high as four in the past).

With the availability of three parallel runways, simultaneous landings and/or departures can be performed in nearly any situation.[68]

Runways 10L and 10R are equipped with Category III ILS (Instrument Landing System) approaches. Runway 28R is certified for Category I ILS. In addition, Runway 28R is authorized for Category II approaches but requires special aircrew and aircraft certification. Runways 28L and 32 have Category I ILS approaches and Runways 10C/28C has LOC/GS. All runways have GPS approaches as well.

The 1991 master plan done during the construction of the new midfield terminal complex for the hub operations of US. Airways called for the eventual addition of four runways giving the airport a total of eight. Along with a parallel second "crosswind" runway of 9,000 feet at the southwest corner of the complex, three additional parallel east-west runways of 8,200 and 8,500 feet were to be built on the southern end of the complex with an 8,200-foot runway on the northwest section.[69]

With the latest construction at the airport, Runway 10C/28C was extended to a length of 10,774 feet.[70]

Additional operations[edit]

FAA Facilities[edit]

Although the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard maintain a great presence on that corner of the complex, the shuttering of some of the Air Force facilities in recent decades has led to the growth of a new tenant for that equipment at Pittsburgh. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has taken over much of the excess cold-war era infrastructure that the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard no longer needs, making Pittsburgh recently an important regional center for the agency.

General aviation[edit]

The new Business Aviation Center (FBO Avcenter), located at the site of the former airport terminal building, is a modern and full service facility for management of corporate air travel and general aviation. It includes a 30,000-square-foot (2,800 m2) hangar, 7,250 square feet (674 m2) of flex office space, charter terminal facilities, conference rooms, passenger lounges, workout rooms, and a restaurant.[71] It is accessible by using Business I-376 in Moon Township.[72]

Airlines Destinations
Netjets Chartered Flights across North America.
Miami Air Chartered Flights across North America, long time charter for Pittsburgh Penguins

Fire school[edit]

The Allegheny County Airport Authority Fire Bureau operates a next-generation, state of the art Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting (ARFF) Training Center.

As an FAA regional training facility it comes equipped with a Boeing 757 mock-up offering realistic and challenging training. The simulated tail engine offers ARFF personnel critical high engine training scenarios. Adjacent to the first-training simulator is a four-story tower that houses the Computer Center ensuring consistent repeatable evolutions for each trainee and allows training to be conducted with the utmost safety of participants in mind. Being well within the airport boundary and designed to be in an area that minimizes distractions, the classrooms, management center, vehicle bay, trainee/equipment support areas and visitors center are located directly adjacent to the training grounds. This layout maximizes training time for students. The use of propane and control of water run-off combine to reduce environmental impact while providing quality occupational education for fire fighters, emergency responders and industrial personnel.[73]

The year round training facility offers specialized sessions in cold climate training evolutions. The system is propane fueled and computer controlled. It features a number of burn scenarios including:

Jetway Maintenance[edit]

Since 2009 the airport has been the primary jetway maintenance center for all JBT clients east of the Mississippi.[74]

Media portrayals[edit]

PIT has hosted major Hollywood productions, including:

Production Year Notes
The Song Remains the Same 1973 The old PIT (1952–1992) in a documentary of Led Zeppelin's 1973 tour. Many other Pittsburgh landmarks are also shown, including the Fort Pitt Tunnel, the Fort Pitt Bridge and Three Rivers Stadium.
Only You 1994 during the beginning of the film when Marissa Tomei's character rushes to the Airport to meet her soul mate and then flies to Venice
Houseguest 1995 when all characters are introduced into the film, Sinbad attempts to escape from the mob at the Airport landside terminal and convinces Phil Hartman and his family that he is his long-lost classmate.
The Young and the Restless March 1998 As a stand in for the fictional Genoa City International Airport.
Dogma 1999 during the opening scenes with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as a stand-in for a Wisconsin airport
Wonder Boys 2000
Screwed 2000 With Dave Chappelle, Norm Macdonald, Sarah Silverman and Danny DeVito
The Daily Show 2002 [75]
King of Queens 2005 Episode: "Wish Boned"
Smart People 2008 With Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church
Zack and Miri Make a Porno 2008 [76][77]
She's Out of My League 2010 Used during most airport scenes. Other segments were simulated using Century III Mall located nearby.[78]
The Next Three Days 2010 Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks drama filming in the landside terminal at the fictional Canadian Southern Airlines counter and at the airside terminal at the Southwest Airlines gates.

Incidents and accidents[edit]

Date Flight/Airplane Description
July 25, 2013 United Airlines Flight 4890 Shortly after taking off from Newark Liberty International Airport, the flight crew smelled smoke in the cockpit. The plane then turned around and made a safe landing on runway 29 in Newark and the passengers were evacuated. No one was injured.
July 28, 2011 Lockheed Martin "HAL-D" An unmanned U.S. Army/Lockheed Martin experimental "HALE-D" airship that took off at 5 am at Wright Patterson Air Force Base crash lands from 32,000 feet at 8:30 am south of the airport between New Freeport and Gilmore.[79]
November 22, 2001 Corporate Learjet Crashed after a rapid takeoff [clarification needed] in which it went "nose-high" before the Pilot Flying (PF) lost control, both on board were killed.[80][81]
September 8, 1994 USAir Flight 427 Crashed on approach from Chicago O'Hare International Airport. All 132 people on board were killed. It resulted in the longest and most thorough NTSB investigation in history.[citation needed] It was determined that a lock occurred in rudder control that caused the plane to fall uncontrollably from 6,000 feet (1,800 m). Boeing has retrofitted every 737 because of the data gathered from this crash. The plane crashed roughly 10 miles (16 km) North-Northwest in Hopewell Township.
December 3, 1990 Northwest Airlines Flight 1482 Departing for Pittsburgh when it collided with Northwest Flight 299, a Boeing 727 at the intersection of Runways 09/27 and 03C/21C at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. The 727 departing for Memphis International Airport was on its takeoff roll when it collided with the DC-9 that was just taxiing onto the other runway. One of the causes of the incident was dense fog in the area. No one on the 727 was injured, but the DC-9 was completely destroyed.[82]
July 31, 1969 Trans World Airlines Flight 79 Hijacked en route from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles International Airport by bank robber Lester Perry Jr. who was being transferred to a new prison. Though accompanied by a U.S. marshall and a correctional officer, Perry was allowed to go to the lavatory unaccompanied where he found a razor blade. Perry then held hostage a flight attendant and demanded to be taken to Havana, Cuba. Upon landing at José Martí International Airport Perry sought political asylum from the Cuban government.[83]
April 1, 1956 TWA Flight 400 It was a flight from Pittsburgh to Newark. It crashed about a half-mile after taking off when the Captain and First Officer did not immediately correct a small engine malfunction/fire. Due to miscommunication and lack of focus it caused failure and a crash. Twenty-two of 36 occupants were killed.[84]
January 31, 1956 U.S. Air Force North American TB-25N Mitchell 44-29125, on cross country flight from Nellis AFB, Nevada to Olmsted AFB, Pennsylvania, after departing Selfridge AFB, Michigan suffers fuel starvation NE of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in mid-afternoon, attempts to divert to Greater Pittsburgh AFB, ditches in the Monongahela River at the 4.9-mile (7.9 km) marker, west of the Homestead High-Level Bridge, drifts ~1.5 miles (2.4 km) downstream in 8–10 knots. current, remaining afloat for 10–15 minutes. All six crew evacuate but two are lost in the 35 °F (2 °C) water before rescue. Search for sunken bomber suspended February 14 with no success – aircraft is thought to have possibly settled in submerged gravel pit area in 32 feet (9.8 m) of water, ~150 feet (46 m) from shore, possibly now covered by 10–15 feet of silt. This crash remains one of the Pittsburgh region's unsolved mysteries.[85]
December 22, 1954 DC-3 Military Charter Ditched in the Monongahela River with 28 men on board after the pilot reported running out of fuel.[86]
July 13, 1950 Beechcraft Commander Two killed and one injured in a crash at Montour Country Club after engine failure.[87]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°29′46″N 80°15′24″W / 40.495997°N 80.256693°W / 40.495997; -80.256693