9.6 Million Passengers Demonstrate Hometown Advantage

Boosted by new nonstops and additional flights to key cities, passenger traffic rose 7.5% in 2018; highest in more than a decade

By Alyson Walls

Published January 18, 2019

Read Time: 2 mins


If you traveled on a new nonstop flight from PIT to Salt Lake City; Sarasota, Fla.; Montreal; San Diego; Seattle; or Charleston, S.C., last year, or if you found yourself shipping up to Boston a few extra times; or if you joined the West Coast jet-setters out to San Francisco at a more convenient travel time, congratulations! You’re one of the 9.66 million travelers who led Pittsburgh International Airport to its most successful year since 2007.

Passenger traffic rose 7.5 percent in 2018, as 9,658,897 people traveled through the airport, compared with 8,988,016 in 2017. And December’s traffic increase of nearly 4 percent marked the airport’s 32nd consecutive month of passenger growth — primarily in origin-and-destination traffic, or those who start and end their trips in Pittsburgh.

That’s significant, said Bryan Dietz, Vice President of Air Service Development, because although the airport has had higher passenger totals historically — over 20 million annual passengers from 1995-98 (the height of the US Airways hub) — those passengers were connecting from other cities, rather than people living in or visiting the Pittsburgh region.

“This is a major milestone in continued growth at Pittsburgh International that further demonstrates our robust market and region,” said Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis. “These numbers indicate that airlines are continuing to invest in Pittsburgh with new air service, and that travelers are taking the flights.”

Total available seats increased 2.3 percent in December, driven by capacity growth to Boston and Atlanta on Delta, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Spirit, Washington Dulles and Houston on United, and Nashville, Orlando, Phoenix and St. Louis on Southwest, which all contributed to the growth in seats for the month.

Cassotis noted that more than 1.5 million seats have been added over the past two years, thanks in part to new airlines and airlines adding new flights, including Alaska, Allegiant, Air Canada, United, Delta, Condor and Spirit. The growth in seats has led to over 1.4 million more annual passengers over the last two years, setting a new all-time record for O&D passengers.

Adding to passenger totals in December, United offered a second daily flight to San Francisco from Dec. 19 through Jan. 6, and unlike previous years, it will continue to operate the service throughout January and February 2019. Also in December, Allegiant resumed seasonal nonstop service to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Delta and JetBlue both expanded service to Boston.

Pittsburgh now has nonstop service to 67 airports, including new year-round service to London-Heathrow; Birmingham, Ala.; Memphis; and Hartford, Conn., in 2019.

Vacation Express also will expand nonstop Punta Cana flights and packages beginning Jan. 19 and running through late April, along with nonstop flights and vacation packages from Pittsburgh to Cancun and Montego Bay. Southwest will re-start nonstop Saturday-only service to Cancun in March.

As with any success, there were airport setbacks as well, including OneJet halting service in August and Delta’s announcement to not bring back the Paris flight this year. Additionally, WOW suspended service to Reykjavik earlier this month.

New service in 2019 includes British Airways to London and Via Airlines, which will launch to four markets later this year.

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