A first-of-its-kind microgrid. A $1.4 billion airline-approved new terminal project. Self-driving cleaning robots with innovative UV technology. Cargo expansion.
While the pandemic nearly brought the aviation industry to a standstill, leaders at Pittsburgh International Airport doubled down on a business plan that made progress.
And that progress is continuing to be recognized within the aviation industry.
The latest example is Airline Routes & Ground Services magazine, which featured PIT CEO Christina Cassotis on the cover along with Spirit Airlines Vice President of Network Planning John Kirby and Richard Prince, CEO of Aviapartner, Europe’s largest independent ground handler.
Dubbed the “Smart Plan Forward,” the airport’s long-term business plan leads with dual imperatives of Air Service Development and Public Health, Safety and Security, followed by key initiatives of Smarter Technology, Smarter Development, Smarter Cargo, Smarter Workforce and a Smarter Terminal.
“If you had said (six) years ago, ‘You’re going to be building a new terminal, breaking ground on a world-leading additive manufacturing campus, and building a microgrid,’ I would have said, ‘Are you kidding? We’re just trying to bring in more airline service,’” Cassotis said when the plan was unveiled shortly before the pandemic.
The plan has seen results. The airport broke ground on its new terminal project in the fall and its 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, including British Airways’ recent announcement that nonstop service between Pittsburgh and London will restart in June.
PIT become the first airport in the world to be completely powered on its own with solar power and natural gas when it flipped the switch on its microgrid in June, making PIT one of the most site-hardened airports in the world.
And all of that happened during a pandemic.
In October, Airport Consultants Council also recognized the progress when it named 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 Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport CEO Jeff Fegan, and former Executive Director of Los Angeles World Airports Gina Marie Lindsay, among others.
“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.”