Nonstop Flights Vital for Business

Pittsburgh companies take advantage of nonstop service

By Rick Wills

Published May 6, 2024

Read Time: 3 mins


Is a trip of 400 or 500 miles with no nonstop flight worth it?

The question nags at nearly any business traveler. Nonstop flights to business centers stand at the top of many businesses’ wish list.

“We hear about it all the time,” said Jonathan Kersting, vice president at the Pittsburgh Technology Council. “Direct flights are as important to tech businesses as talent and capital. It’s just that important.”

While Zoom helped businesses navigate the pandemic, companies still want in-person meetings and visits, Kersting said. “And no one wants to spend more than half a day trying to make connections that you could miss, half a day to go 500 miles,” he said.

Southwest, Delta and Breeze aircraft at Pittsburgh International airport on May 6, 2024. (Photo by Beth Hollerich)

Direct travel boosts trade and innovation

Nonstop air travel is about more than just convenience and good business. It leads to economic growth and innovation, especially in the global context, according to a study released last year by Harvard Business School Associate Professor Prithwiraj Choudhury.

In his examination of flight and patent data, Choudhury found that a 10 percent increase in nonstop flights between two locations led to a 1.4 percent increase in new patents between firms in those places.

“Even in a hybrid world, even in a world of work-from-anywhere, we still need to occasionally meet colleagues in person,” Choudhury said.

Fortunately for Pittsburgh, nonstop flights have been on the rise at Pittsburgh International Airport for the past decade. Nonstop service to London on British Airways alone – which restarted in 2019 after a 20-year hiatus – generates an estimated $50 million in economic impact annually for the region.

A British Airways 787-8 Dreamliner enters the ramp area at PIT after arriving from London Heathrow on April 8, 2024. (Photo by Evan Dougherty)

More nonstop destinations from Pittsburgh

Once known for blast furnaces and factories, Pittsburgh has transformed over four decades. Technology now accounts for a quarter of the region’s economy and 34 percent of the region’s salaries.

Boston, Seattle, Austin, and San Francisco are among the key destinations for technology firms that are reachable with nonstop flights from Pittsburgh that are important to technology firms.

Since 2014, the airport has increased nonstop destinations from 37 to 61 and expanded the number of airlines by 50 percent to 15 today. The airport is also on track to have nearly 10 million passengers, up from the 7.99 million 10 years ago.

New international and West Coast destinations include London, Reykjavik, Seattle and San Diego. From Reykjavik and London, travelers can easily get connections to destinations in Europe and elsewhere.

Many businesses consider such flights vital to their operations.

“We take full advantage of nonstop flights,” said Meghan McAndrew, director of corporate and digital communications at Federated Hermes, a Pittsburgh-based investment firm that manages $758 billion in assets. “They are the preferred option in our travel policy. Direct flights efficiently get our employees to their destination while reducing risk of delay, missed flights or cancellations when making a connection.”

The company routinely uses nonstop flights to New York, Boston, San Francisco, Washington D.C., London, Chicago and Ft. Myers, Florida, McAndrew said. There’s always room for more flights, she said, with Frankfurt and Amsterdam at the top of the list.

Nonstop flights attract not only businesses but also leisure travelers, said Christina O’Toole of Avenue Two Travel in Pittsburgh.

“Everyone wants to fly nonstop. It’s always an attraction and makes travel easier,” said O’Toole, who has been in the business for more than 30 years.

Go to Top