Members of the Airport Consultants Council share a light moment after awarding PIT CEO Christina Cassotis its annual Aviation Award of Excellence. From left: Awards Chairperson Faith Varwig, Cassotis, President T.J. Schulz, and 2021 Board Chairperson Larry Studdiford. (Photo by Bob Kerlik)

Industry Recognizes PIT’s Transformation with Award

It’s been nearly two weeks since Pittsburgh International Airport broke ground on its new billion-dollar terminal. It’s been three months since the airport cut the ribbon on a first-of-its-kind microgrid completely powering its facilities.

PIT’s cargo business is growing so fast it’s nearly out of space. Fortune 500 company Wabtec is anchoring the airport’s new additive manufacturing development. Airlines have started more than 20 new nonstop routes in the last year.

And all of that happened during a pandemic.

That success hasn’t gone unnoticed in the industry. This week, the Airport Consultants Council named PIT CEO Christina Cassotis the recipient of its 2021 Aviation Award of Excellence.

The award has been given out for more than three decades to some of aviation’s most innovative leaders, including Southwest founder Herb Kelleher, former Continental Airlines CEO Gordon Bethune, former Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport CEO Jeff Fegan, and former Executive Director of Los Angeles World Airports Gina Marie Lindsay, among others.

The Aviation Award of Excellence is presented annually to recognize extraordinary contributions to the aviation industry that are visionary, innovative, advance the industry and serve the good of the general public. Cassotis was selected by a panel of airport development professionals from across the country for her long career and strong leadership through the pandemic.

“To be recognized alongside true aviation giants is humbling, but we couldn’t have accomplished any of this in Pittsburgh without our tremendous team and community support,” Cassotis said. “Our team is rock stars in leading, developing and executing transformational initiatives. And, at the end of the day, it’s all about helping to fuel the amazing Pittsburgh renaissance.”

Prior to the pandemic, Pittsburgh’s passenger counts increased for five straight years under Cassotis’ leadership after nearly a decade of decline, and several new carriers have started service. She’s also focused on equal access to the opportunities at the airport.

“When the pandemic hit, we were able to quickly pivot and focus on other key parts of our strategic plan. While our key business slowed across the industry, our response accelerated,” Cassotis said.

“We focused on cargo, we got the microgrid done, and we secured unanimous airline support for our new terminal project with excellent financial ratings. That’s a credit to our team and it’s also a credit to the faith in the Pittsburgh market by our industry partners.”

“ACC is pleased to present Christina Cassotis the ACC Aviation Award of Excellence this year,” said President T.J. Schulz. “Christina has had a long, impactful career in aviation and airports, and she has led PIT through numerous changes and challenges. She is recognized as an industry leader and is very deserving of this award.”

PIT CEO Christina Cassotis accepts the annual 2021 Aviation Award from Awards Chairperson Faith Varwig. (Photo by Bob Kerlik)

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