American's PSA heritage jet comes into land on PIT's runway 28L. Runway 10R/28L is the airport's longest runway at 11,500 feet. (Photo by Beth Hollerich)

Airport Decides Against Closing Longest Runway

After a lengthy review, Pittsburgh International Airport won’t be closing a runway after all.

Airport officials had been reviewing whether runway 10R/28L—the airport’s longest and southernmost strip—would make sense to close as a potential cost-savings measure.

In a letter to the FAA earlier this month, CEO Christina Cassotis said the airport leadership team has pledged to examine every area of the organization for cost savings while considering what’s best for the region’s airports, including the cost/benefit analysis of potentially reducing the airport’s four runways or taxiway assets.

The study came as the airport’s cargo business has continued to grow, including the addition of multiple international carriers and Amazon Air. Nearly 250 million pounds of cargo shipped from around the world touched down at PIT in 2021, the most in nearly 20 years, as demand for air cargo soared amid global supply chain disruptions.

“The results of this analysis indicate that while PIT currently has excess capacity, that capacity provides operational flexibility to meet the needs of current operations, including cargo,” Cassotis wrote in the letter.

“It found that the continued maintenance of the current runway configuration is justified over the impacts of removal. Additionally, ACAA considered the comments of key partners, including the military, regarding safety, operational readiness and emergency preparedness.”

Pittsburgh International Airport is home to two military bases: the 911th Airlift Wing and the 171st Air Refueling Wing.

“As such, ACAA concludes that the best course of action is to maintain the current airfield configuration and to no longer consider the removal of airfield assets,” Cassotis wrote.

The 11,500-foot runway opened in 1980. Any runway closure must be approved by the FAA and would incur significant costs to remove the pavement in order to close it permanently.

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