Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Southwest Will Have Most Nonstop Flights Set to Overtake American Here after Addition of St. Louis Route

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Southwest Will Have Most Nonstop Flights Set to Overtake American Here after Addition of St. Louis Route

Article excerpt

The US Airways name disappeared from the skies earlier this month. Now the airline known as American isn't even tops in Pittsburgh anymore, at least when it comes to nonstop destinations.

With the addition of a nonstop flight to St. Louis, Southwest Airlines will supplant American as the region's top carrier in terms of destinations - breaking a dominance that US Airways held for decades.

Once the St. Louis service starts March 10, Southwest will have 15 nonstop destinations from Pittsburgh, counting a seasonal flight to West Palm Beach. American will have 12.

American now has 14 but will lose service next month to St. Louis and Hartford, both of which are handled by affiliate carrier Trans States Airlines. American still has the biggest share of passengers, carrying nearly 33 percent of those from Pittsburgh in August. Southwest was second at 24 percent.

Still, the loss of the top spot in terms of destinations marks another milestone in US Airways' retrenchment at Pittsburgh International Airport. At one time, the carrier held a stranglehold on the market, with nearly 550 flights to more than 100 nonstop destinations.

But a series of devastating cutbacks over the last 14 years, including the closing of the airline's Pittsburgh hub in 2004, cost the region 10,000 jobs, hundreds of flights and dozens of nonstop destinations.

Now Southwest seems to be the airline on the rise. It started with 10 flights a day to four destinations 10 years ago. With the St. Louis flight, formally announced at an airport news conference Tuesday, it will have 30 flights to 15 destinations.

Christina Cassotis, CEO for the Allegheny County Airport Authority, which operates Pittsburgh International, said Southwest saw an opportunity here and took it. "Southwest believes this is a market worth investing in," she said.

And it may not be finished. …

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