PIT CEO: Pittsburgh Is a World Leader—It’s Time We Started Talking That Way (VIDEO)

We are building a new narrative for PIT focused on innovation inspired by power of travel

By Christina Cassotis

Published May 3, 2021

Read Time: 3 mins


Editor’s Note: Christina Cassotis is the CEO of the Allegheny County Airport Authority, which operates Pittsburgh International Airport.

Words matter. Our story and how we tell it matters.

The Pittsburgh region has come a long way in the past two decades. Our 21st Century economy is vibrant, driven by technology, education and healthcare, finance, energy and advanced manufacturing.

At the heart of it all is innovation, as it always has been. That’s really the story of Pittsburgh. From Andrew Carnegie and Jonas Salk to artificial intelligence and 3D printing, Pittsburgh has entrepreneurial innovation in its DNA.

But for some, the perception of Pittsburgh is still based on a bygone era and an outdated narrative. That’s why people are always surprised when they come here.

We have a responsibility to change that, by telling the story of Pittsburgh and the incredible airports that welcome people here to work, study and innovate. We now have a seat at the table among world leaders and global changemakers in the industry. That narrative translates to passenger and cargo service for our region. We show the airlines and the industry why Pittsburgh is great for them. That’s our job.

That’s why today we are refreshing our brand with a new narrative for Pittsburgh International Airport, one that is focused on innovation inspired by the power of travel.

Our story is built around four pillars.

    1. We are reinventing the airport experience. We are building a new, smarter and greener airport—one that is reflective of the new Pittsburgh and the first in the world to be powered by its own microgrid fueled by thousands of solar panels and natural gas from airport land. We are reimagining the airport experience through partners like Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, along with homegrown Pittsburgh-based tech firms and global Fortune 100 companies. As we emerge from a post-pandemic world, the travel industry must innovate, something our team knows how to do.
    2. We are connecting Pittsburgh to the world and the world to Pittsburgh. We are the region’s front door. We are the first and last impression for companies looking to relocate, for prospective students visiting our colleges and universities, for business travelers flying in for a quick meeting. And it’s not just people coming through our airport. International and domestic cargo—the movement of goods—is a critical part of our regional competitiveness.
    3. We are helping people get closer to what matters to them. The pandemic put our physical connections to other people and the world on hold. Our nation’s airports are the critical portals through which people connect to each other and into adventure, understanding, acceptance, relationship building and rejuvenation.
    4. We are a $28 billion regional economic engine. We’re more than a public utility; we’re focused on leveraging the resources of our airports—and showcasing the resources of the region—to highlight all this area has to offer. From recruiting air service to developing the world’s first cluster strategy for additive manufacturing, we are helping to lead our region into its post-pandemic recovery and secure its long-term success.

We are coming out of a crisis, the likes of which our world and our industry have never seen. But we can’t let this crisis derail our vision and long-term planning nor impede us from taking the actions necessary to build our future.

Not all airports think like this, particularly in the U.S., where there is still too much focus on the public utility part of our collective mission. Pittsburgh is a city of firsts and has earned its place back on the global stage. Our airports are leaning into innovation, fueled by an extraordinary collaboration with our region’s institutions to become true levers of economic growth. Many airports in Asia and throughout Europe have already figured this out and are moving ahead to help lead their economies.

The pandemic has reset business in a way that moved most regions and airports back to the starting line to compete on a near-level playing field for flights, business and jobs. Now is the time to tell our story in a new way so we can boldly and proudly sell Pittsburgh to the world.

We know that narratives do in fact drive economic impact. That’s not me saying it—this comes from world-leading economists who know that the stories people tell affect economic outcomes. And we have a great story to share.

So please, buckle up and get ready for takeoff. What’s next is now. Our future is bright, and our story—Pittsburgh’s newest chapter—is just beginning.

Click here to see how Pittsburgh International Airport embodies innovation inspired by the power of travel.

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