Airlines to Break Records at PIT this Summer

Southwest, Spirit, American offering more seats than ever at PIT as carriers add more flights, destinations

By Evan Dougherty & Julie Bercik

Published June 21, 2024

Read Time: 5 mins


Several airlines are expected to offer a record number of seats at Pittsburgh International Airport this summer—a sign that carriers continue to see Pittsburgh as a strong market for air travel.

In July, at least five carriers will break a record for their monthly capacity offerings at PIT, which includes “bidirectional seats” – a combination of arriving and departing flights and the number of seats offered within them:

  • Southwest Airlines will operate nearly 298,000 bidirectional seats in July, the most it has ever offered in a month at Pittsburgh since starting service in 2005. It is also the most monthly seats currently offered by any airline at PIT.
  • American Airlines will offer nearly 262,000 seats for the month, the highest the airline has offered in Pittsburgh since its merger with US Airways in 2013.
  • Spirit Airlines will offer more than 144,000 bidirectional seats during the month, its highest since entering the Pittsburgh market in 2017.
  • Frontier Airlines will fly nearly 49,000 bidirectional seats at PIT, its most since returning to the area in 2016.
  • Breeze Airways is scheduled to operate nearly 29,000 seats, its largest amount of monthly capacity since beginning service at PIT in 2021.

How are the airlines adding all this capacity?

“They’re adding new routes and bringing bigger aircraft on current routes,” said Joe Rotterdam, director of Air Service Development at PIT. “And for many of our carriers, they’re scheduled to fly more passengers this summer than they have since 2019.”

Frontier and Spirit, for example, each serve more destinations from PIT than in 2019, with many of the routes added post-pandemic. Spirit has added nonstop service to Newark, Miami, New York-LaGuardia, Boston and Houston-Intercontinental. Frontier recently tripled its network with new service to Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Philadelphia and Raleigh-Durham beginning last month.

Breeze, which began service at PIT to four cities in 2021, has been one of the airport’s fastest-growing airlines. It now serves 12 total cities with San Diego, its newest addition, launched in May.

Breeze and Spirit are among carriers that have grown existing routes through more capacity. In July, Breeze expects to increase year-over-year seats to Charleston, Raleigh-Durham and Norfolk/Virginia Beach. Spirit is also increasing year-over-year capacity to Los Angeles, Newark and Orlando, with the largest amount of capacity (+159 percent) added to Fort Lauderdale.

Southwest is also adding capacity in July to Denver, Dallas-Love and Baltimore with its largest increases in seats to Phoenix (+280 percent), Las Vegas (+55 percent), Houston-Hobby (+43 percent) and Nashville (+23 percent). The airline also launched nonstop service to San Diego this month and resumed seasonal service to Cancun and Myrtle Beach.

American, meanwhile, is up in year-over-year July seats to Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham, Chicago-O’Hare, Dallas-Fort Worth, Miami and Charlotte.

The gains speak volumes about the appetite for air travel in the Pittsburgh region, said Rotterdam. “The airlines have recognized that this region is craving additional travel options. Our travelers want new destinations and additional frequencies to existing destinations. And the airlines have responded by bringing these new flights in.”

“Airlines are going where people want to fly. Pittsburgh is one of those places that people want to fly from,” he added.

Two Frontier A320neo aircraft at PIT after arriving from Philadelphia and Dallas-Fort Worth on June 13, 2024. (Photo by Evan Dougherty)

Busiest May in 17 years at PIT

May 24 was a milestone day for air travel both nationally and in Pittsburgh.

Amid the Memorial Day weekend travel rush, TSA screened more than 2.95 million travelers at airports nationwide, setting a new single day record for the agency previously set during the Thanksgiving holiday last year.

That same day, Pittsburgh International Airport saw 18,255 departing passengers pass through the security screening checkpoint, the most daily passengers recorded at the airport since 2019.

Strong demand drove May 2024 passenger totals at PIT to 102 percent of May 2019 pre-pandemic levels. It was the busiest May for passenger traffic at PIT since 2007.

In terms of seat capacity offerings, airlines offered approximately 70,000 more seats in May compared to the same period in 2019 (nearly 107 percent of May 2019) via up-gauging to larger aircraft and adding more flights.

And that traffic is expected to remain well above pre-pandemic levels through the summer, said Rotterdam. Alongside the record-breaking capacity on some airlines, other carriers have added service in key strategic markets.

In May, PIT welcomed Icelandair to its airline lineup with the launch of seasonal, nonstop flights to Reykjavik, Iceland operating four times a week. Coupled with British Airways and its year-round service to London Heathrow operating six days a week, PIT is connected to Europe with nonstop transatlantic flights every day of the week through late October.

An Icelandair 737 MAX 8 taxis to its gate at PIT from Reykjavik on May 21, 2024. (Photo by Evan Dougherty)

The added service to Europe is huge for both business and leisure travelers, said Rotterdam, whether for in-person meetings or more flexibility for vacation planning.

The West Coast is another important market from Pittsburgh that has seen nonstop options grow. That includes the new nonstop flights to San Diego on Breeze and Southwest.

Alaska Airlines and United Airlines each now operate twice daily service to Seattle and San Francisco, with Alaska resuming its second daily Seattle flight last month. In addition, Breeze and Spirit serve Los Angeles nonstop from Pittsburgh.

Delta Air Lines recently announced the resumption of nonstop service to Salt Lake City beginning Nov. 23.

The additional West Coast flights are huge for the region’s businesses and leisure travelers, said Rotterdam. “We continue to focus on the West Coast because that’s a region in demand from Pittsburgh.”

Other additions to PIT’s air service portfolio include Air Canada resuming daily flights to Montreal and Sun Country Airlines resuming seasonal flights to Minneapolis in May. In addition, tour operators Apple Vacations and Vacation Express have added more flights to Punta Cana.

With the addition of Salt Lake City, PIT offers 171 peak-day departures to 62 domestic and international nonstop destinations across 15 carriers. Additional information on PIT’s network can be found at

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