PIT Among Fastest Growing U.S. Airports, Says Trade Group

Airlines continue investing in Pittsburgh as passenger demand rises

By Evan Dougherty

Published March 18, 2024

Read Time: 3 mins


Pittsburgh International Airport ranks fourth in growth among medium-to-large U.S. airports, and passenger traffic is now surpassing pre-pandemic levels.

Airline capacity — an industry term for scheduled seats — is projected to increase 13 percent for the second quarter of 2024, compared to the same period in 2023, according to new data from Airlines for America, a trade group.

Only the Charlotte, Milwaukee and Philadelphia airports project higher growth.

“Airlines continue to recognize the strength and value of the Pittsburgh market,” said Joe Rotterdam, Director, Air Service Development at PIT. “As a result, we are seeing carriers respond to the region’s growing demand by adding more capacity into Pittsburgh.”

The data comes as February marked PIT’s strongest month in terms of passenger recovery since the pandemic, with nearly 8.4 percent more travelers than February 2023.

That raised PIT’s passenger totals to 101.6 percent of pre-pandemic levels, though this year’s Feb. 29 Leap Day provided an added boost to the numbers.

Airline capacity also surpassed pre-pandemic levels in February. Airlines scheduled over 860,000 seats at PIT last month, which represented a nearly 4 percent increase in capacity year-over-year and 2.4 percent increase from February 2019. Leap Day represented 3.7 percent of the monthly capacity.

Southwest Airlines continues to be the leading airline at PIT, carrying 26.3 percent of passengers in February, followed closely by American Airlines with 23.3 percent of passengers flown.

Southwest also led all carriers in February with the highest growth in scheduled seats year-over-year, with increased flights to Chicago-Midway; Fort Myers, Fla.; Nashville; Orlando; and Tampa, among other destinations. Spirit Airlines was second with new service to Miami, which began in November, and additional service to Orlando.

PIT continues to see growth from ultra-low-cost carriers, which accounted for 16 percent of the airport’s total passengers in February, highlighting the increased demand for low-cost travel in the Pittsburgh market.

Airlines add spring, summer flights

With recent announcements of new flights by several airlines, PIT now has nonstop service to 61 destinations across 150 total peak-day departures.

That includes Spirit, expanding its New York City service with seasonal, daily nonstop flights to New York-LaGuardia starting May 8, supplementing its existing daily flights to Newark, which began in June 2022.

Spirit’s entry into the New York market has helped both lower fares and increase demand between Pittsburgh and New York City. Last year, one-way fares between the two cities declined by double digits versus pre-pandemic figures. Demand for the market, meanwhile, rose 8 percent in the first quarter of 2023 and 4 percent during the second quarter of 2023.

In addition, Spirit will resume its seasonal, daily service to Myrtle Beach this Thursday, another popular leisure market among Pittsburghers.

Ultra-low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines is also expanding its offerings at PIT this summer, punctuated by new twice-daily service to Philadelphia, another traditional high-fare market from Pittsburgh, starting May 16. Frontier will also begin nonstop service to Dallas-Fort Worth on May 16, and to Atlanta and Raleigh-Durham on May 17.

Ultra-low-cost carriers Frontier and Spirit will expand their offerings at PIT this summer, including new service to New York-LaGuardia and Philadelphia. (Photo by Beth Hollerich)

PIT will add San Diego to its route map with new service on Breeze Airways and Southwest starting this summer. Breeze will begin its twice-weekly, seasonal San Diego service on May 3. while Southwest will start its weekend service on June 8.

Sun Country Airlines will return to Pittsburgh this summer with seasonal flights to Minneapolis/St. Paul resuming May 24.

PIT will see a boost to its international offerings for peak summer travel. British Airways will increase nonstop service to London Heathrow back to six times a week on April 1, and Air Canada will resume daily flights to Montreal on larger 76-seat aircraft on May 1, which features the carrier’s business class to the market.

In addition, Icelandair will introduce its seasonal, four times weekly nonstop service to Reykjavik from Pittsburgh on May 16, linking the region to Iceland with nonstop service for the first time since before the pandemic.

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