In 2004, U.S. Airways decided to close its Pittsburgh hub, taking hundreds of daily flights and millions of connecting passengers with them.
At the time, forecasts were dire. Pittsburgh International Airport, once regarded as a treasure of the aviation industry — The New York Times called it the “airport of the future” — was firmly in decline.
A lot has changed since then.
In the last three years, the airport has added a slew of direct flights — Iceland, Montreal and Seattle to name a few — and announced a planned project to construct a sleek new $1 billion terminal.
And while there are many reasons for this bounce back, the piecemeal nature of the rebound — spread out over weeks, months and years — can mean it’s difficult to visualize. For that reason, we at The Incline compiled the following data through requests made to airport officials. The numbers reveal an airport on the rise again. They also reveal the fall that came first.
Late ’90s: 20 million
2013: 7.8 million
2016: 8.3 million
Before CEO Christina Cassotis came on board in 2015 with what spokespeople call “a specific mission to increase air service for our community,” the airport was floundering.
Spokesperson Alyson Walls explains: “Our airport was in a state of decline in terms of flights and passengers — going from a high of about 20 million passengers per year in the late 90s, to under 8 million in 2013. We also had several hundred flights per day when the airport was operated as a hub for U.S. Airways.”