When London called, Pittsburgh answered.
Three years ago, British Airways launched from Pittsburgh International Airport, creating nonstop service to London Heathrow. And now, after regional leaders led a successful overseas mission, the airline is increasing from four to six flights a week, a huge win for Western Pennsylvania.
The projected direct, indirect and induced economic impact of the additional flights is $12,342,000, according to Boston-based research firm EBP US.
“These additional flights are a vote of confidence in the strength of this market and the region,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “During our recent trip to London we were able to showcase our region, and we look forward to the additional opportunities our community will have because of those efforts.”
Current service operates on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. With the new frequencies, British Airways aircraft will arrive at PIT every day of the week except Saturday.
A fifth flight will be added on April 24, with the sixth coming on May 14.
“We are delighted to be increasing our flight frequency from Pittsburgh to London next summer,” said Neil Chernoff, British Airways’ director of network and alliances. “As the only airline to operate a direct route between Pittsburgh and London Heathrow, these additional flights will give our customers even greater flexibility when travelling to Britain and beyond.”
In October, Fitzgerald and airport executives led a delegation that included business leaders and others to London to meet with British Airways and other U.K. firms to strengthen existing business connections and explore the possibilities for new relationships.
Nearly 30 executives from stalwarts like PNC, PPG and the Pittsburgh Steelers to tech firms like Aurora and Carnegie Robotics, as well as representatives from Pittsburgh’s higher education, philanthropy and arts and culture sectors, attended the October event.
“We know what we have in this region, in terms of the people and the businesses and the culture, and how valuable these assets are,” said Christina Cassotis, CEO of the Allegheny County Airport Authority, which operates PIT.
“Pittsburgh is a global brand, and we need to tell that story whenever and wherever we get the chance. That’s vital to building partnerships and increasing international air service. Thanks to our partners at British Airways for taking the time to understand and believe in this market.”
When British Airways returned to PIT in April 2019 after a 20-year absence, the airline cited the numerous economic ties between the two cities as a driving factor. That assessment proved correct, as ticket sales took off.
Like virtually all international routes, it was suspended in spring 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the travel industry. But the airline and PIT never stopped talking about its return — it just made too much business sense not to.
The service was relaunched in June, using the same Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner on the route.
The route is about more than business travel, however. Leisure travel has been potent as well, filling up seats in every cabin. And the belly cargo capacity gives PIT steady international cargo service six days a week, offering significant schedule flexibility.
The flexibility the additional frequencies offer to passengers isn’t just about departure and arrival times at PIT and LHR. They offer more chances to make connections to international routes that aren’t as frequent.
“We were honored to recently join airport leadership and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald in London,” said Mike Embrescia, Chief Development Officer of Carnegie Robotics, one of the region’s earliest robotics companies.
“Pittsburgh is known as the Robotics Capital of the World — and the relationships we cultivated in London will continue to yield great things for not only our company, but also our region. As we work with some of the world’s largest commercial companies, growing our global access is imperative to the future of our business.”