A cake shaped like Pittsburgh International Airport greeted visitors Monday as they arrived for a celebration marking the facility’s 20th year. County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said the economic impact of owning and developing the land upon which the airport sits has resulted in great successes for the county over the last two decades.
“And we have much more to do, many more acres to develop. The 9,000 acres we own here, we’ve developed about 2,000 of those acres and we’ve had about $325 million of private investment that has come in here, creating about 5,000 jobs that are right here in the airport corridor,” he said.
Fitzgerald also announced that starting in May, Delta Airlines is extending its non-stop Pittsburgh to Paris flights to five days a week through the summer of 2013. Delta will suspend service later this month before relaunching in the spring. Since the direct service was launched in 2010 it has had a sporadic schedule and Fitzgerald believes the more regular flight times will encourage usage.
“It was difficult to keep track of the days they were operating, so now you’re going to know they’re operating every day. This is a continued success of our region and how we continue to grow and move forward,” said Fitzgerald.
Airport Authority Executive Director and CEO Brad Penrod cited some of the challenges the airport has faced over the last 20 years, including the loss of a major hub, increased security measures enacted after the 9/11 terror attacks, and changing traveler traffic. He said Pittsburgh International has weathered all of the challenges presented to it, and will continue to prosper.
“Pittsburgh has turned into a great origination destination market, at the same time we can turn the hub support on literally overnight. We know that airport industry and the aviation/airline industry changes on a regular basis, and we know that we’re ready and prepared for the future,” said Penrod.