Welcoming a New Airline is Everyone’s Job

After 4 years of recruiting and prepping, teamwork paves the way for BA

By Bob Kerlik

Published April 8, 2019

Read Time: 2 mins


When Dennis Murrio and his Pittsburgh International Airport paint crew finished painting the apron in anticipation of British Airways’ arrival in a 787 Dreamliner, he knew it was a big deal.

“As far as BA coming in, it’s great. We gave (the apron) a little extra TLC,” Murrio said.

At PIT, British Airways’ inaugural flight was a culmination of more than four years of work – from selling the carrier on Pittsburgh to making sure its computer needs were met for operation.

British Airways arrived April 2 after a 20-year hiatus with plans to serve Pittsburgh four days a week, year-round, with nonstop service to London Heathrow. The airport garnered accolades in the industry for securing the service amid tough competition around the world for BA planes.

The flight arrived on time and taxied to gate C59 with British and American flags waving from the cockpit. Both arriving and departing passengers lauded the service and convenience of the flight.

“Our No. 1 job, aside from safety and security, is to create a business environment where airlines serve our region seamlessly and that’s going to take everybody doing their jobs well. If not, it’s a hard sell that this is a good place to do business,” said Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis. “Everything we do is meant to facilitate air service. It’s everybody’s victory that BA is here.”

From Airline Services training BA’s ground-handling company on the jet bridges to Terminal Operations leading high-level set-up coordination to Finance and Legal reviewing agreements to Facilities Maintenance prepping office space, welcoming airlines touches all departments at the airport, Cassotis said.

As one example, manager of IT applications Dan Carness and his team ensured the carrier was connected to the common use gate system with proper equipment installed at ticketing counters and gates.

“We knew we really had to be on our ‘A’ game. We want them – and all carriers – to be pleased with the airport,” Carness said.

They were joined by hundreds of colleagues across the Authority who worked for months to make sure BA had a smooth arrival.

“From the ticket counters to preparations on the airfield and the ramp, we have some real, specialized talent in our operations and maintenance crews, along with our fire department. Preparing for a world-class airline like British Airways required all hands on deck to ensure the seamless experience we had last week,” said April Gasparri, senior vice president of public safety, operations, & maintenance.

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