To Fly

So I debated whether to point out the obvious here, but I wasn’t even sure if this was serious.  See the press release: Pittsburgh International Airport Celebrates 20 Years Of Service, Innovation And Growth In The Pittsburgh Region.

No hubris there.  I’m now half expecting the Nuttings to issue a press release highlighting 76 wins this season.

Now I hate to point this out, but Pittsburgh is the 22nd largest metropolitan area in the nation depending on how you want to benchmark it.  Yet the Greater Pittsburgh International Airport is of late the 45th largest airport when measured by passenger enplanements.  In fact it is on a trend to be kicked off the list of the Top 50 airports in the US when so ranked.

So when it comes to measuring competitiveness a basic metric is the Location Quotient (LQ).  I’ll skip the tutorial, but let’s just say that when it comes to economic impact I am pretty sure commerical air transportation in the Pittsburgh region has a LQ less than 1.0.  OK, skip that for now. No need to confuse anything with data or anything like that.

If you really want to read the tea leaves, consider what it means that virtually all of the nearby smaller regional airports are growing.  All while Pittsburgh traffic is trending down again.  For a time there was a bump up that sure seemed to result from the rush of shale development drove the demand for flights into the region. Was that really thought to be sustainable?

Recall also the multi-decade effort to make the airport into a center for air freight as well as passenger traffic.  Well, as best I can tell we are not even on that top 50 list today.

More troubling is what will happen in there is a merger of USAirways and American Airways as is being talked about because of the troubles at AA.   If you look at the top destinations of folks flying out of Pittsburgh you will see Charlotte is #2. Have to believe that is all flying into the USAirways hub they retained.  I really have to believe those numbers will come down if US Airways morphs with the AA network.

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