MIAMI – Allegheny County Airport Authority (ACAA) CEO Christina Cassotis does not expect British Airways (BA) to return to Pittsburgh International (PIT) until 2022.

The announcement was heard in the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s Business as Usual daily webcast on May 3. The BA London Heathrow (LHR) service to PIT was suspended amid the pandemic’s onset last spring and although there were attempts to revive it multiple times, BA ultimately paused the service indefinitely in the fall of 2020.

“We have been in constant touch with all of our airline partners throughout the pandemic, the international community included,” Cassotis said. “There was talk about BA coming back this summer and believe me, I would be the one who would wish that would happen. We can’t have them come back and not succeed.”

British Airway first started service to Pittsburgh after a 20-year hiatus in April of 2019 in its big North American expansion that included Charleston South Carolina (CHS), Nashville Tennessee (BNA), and Calgary, Alberta Canada (YYC).

British Airways. Photo: Milan Witham/Airways

While International is down domestic is up at PIT

Cassotis said the airport continues to see a marked improvement for domestic travel than the traffic figures that first started to appear last year.

“We’re back to just over 50% recovery which is great, we’re very happy about that and a lot of that, as I’m sure many of you can attest to, is leisure,” Cassotis said. “People are getting on planes, there’s more service to Florida now than we’ve ever had.”

Cassotis added flights are reaching 100% load factors, and that some travelers are now getting asked if they’d like a travel credit by taking a later flight due to the aviation industry’s tried method of overbooking its aircraft. She also added that the region’s business travelers, including herself, are also coming back to the airport.

“We are definitely seeing some business travelers come in, mid-week taxi trips are up, our Uber and Lyft trips are up, rental cars are up slightly.”

Cassotis said she does not envision the airline partners will adopt a “vaccine passport” system for domestic travel anytime soon, but said international carriers may be required to dependent on the entry requirements of other nations.

“It’s tough to enforce and I don’t see it ever happening for domestic, just to be clear,” Cassotis said.

PIT aerial. Photo: De MeRyan – originally posted to Flickr as pgh, CC BY 2.0

Additional Airport Updates

She mentioned that the prep work has begun for the US$1.4bn Terminal Modernization program and added construction crews hope to break ground this fall.

Activity that’s closer to happening, Cassotis said the airport is “about to flip-on in a matter of weeks” the microgrid project which will power the entire campus, likely placing it as the first airport in the world that will have the traditional power grid serve as a backup to its own fully sustained powered infrastructure supplied by natural gas and solar energies.

“We’re really proud of that,” Cassotis said.

Featured image: Pittsburgh International Airport’s new terminal will be accompanied by a Multi-Modal Center housing parking, rental car facilities and more. (Rendering courtesy of Gensler + HDR in association with luis vidal + architects)