Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Airport Offers Incentives for Nonstop Destinations

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Airport Offers Incentives for Nonstop Destinations

Article excerpt

San Diego, Seattle, New Orleans and Jacksonville, Fla., top the list of destinations being targeted for nonstop service by officials at Pittsburgh International Airport.

The Allegheny County Airport Authority is offering incentives, ranging from a waiver of landing fees to marketing support, for any airline willing to take a gamble on those routes or eight other coveted destinations.

But one big international stop not on the latest list is London, even though it was the top write-in vote getter in an online poll done by the airport authority last year. It also was the top destination singled out by voters in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette online poll this week.

Bradley D. Penrod, airport authority executive director, said the targeted cities were chosen based on the authority's poll, a survey of businesses done by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, and on U.S. Department of Transportation statistics that calculate how many travelers a day fly between Pittsburgh and other cities.

As a result of the feedback, San Diego emerged as the top destination, with Seattle second, New Orleans third and Jacksonville fourth. Other cities in the top 12 are Milwaukee; San Antonio/ Austin, Texas; Calgary, Alberta, Canada; Kansas City, Mo.; Nashville, Tenn.; Salt Lake City; Oklahoma City; and Love Field in Dallas.

Pittsburgh hasn't had nonstop service to either San Diego or Seattle since the summer of 2007, when US Airways dropped the flights after shutting down its hub at the airport. There's no nonstop service to any of the other cities, except to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

San Diego and Seattle were the top vote getters in the authority's online survey. They also generated more passengers a day each way (San Diego, 117, and Seattle, 108) than any of the other cities targeted by the airport, according to Department of Transportation data.

While some of the cities have been on the airport's radar for some time, San Antonio and Austin are new to the latest list, Mr. Penrod said. Austin is a growing destination for Pittsburgh's high- tech companies, while San Antonio is home to a number of military bases, he said.

Airport officials also have seen an uptick in travel to New Orleans. The Big Easy is drawing more traffic because of the region's Marcellus Shale drilling boom, Mr. Penrod said. Louisiana is a hub for many energy companies. The airport also is seeing a lot of energy-related travel to Calgary.

Jacksonville draws a mix of business and leisure travel, while Milwaukee is one of the 30 top business destinations from Pittsburgh. Frontier Airlines started service to Milwaukee in the spring only to discontinue it two weeks later.

Mr. Penrod said London, despite its popularity with online voters, did not make the cut because only 54 people a day fly to that destination from Pittsburgh. …

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