Pittsburgh International Airport
Pittsburgh International Airport
|Airport type||Public / military|
|Operator||Allegheny County Airport Authority|
|Location||Moon Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|Hub for||Southern Airways Express|
|Focus city for|
|Elevation AMSL||1,204 ft / 367 m|
Pittsburgh International Airport (IATA: PIT, ICAO: KPIT, FAA LID: PIT), formerly Greater Pittsburgh International Airport, is a civil–military international airport in the eastern United States, in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is located in Findlay and Moon townships of Allegheny County, about twenty miles (30 km) west of downtown Pittsburgh, at an elevation of 1,141 feet (350 m) above sea level.
It was built to replace Allegheny County Airport, which was closer to Pittsburgh but too small to handle the growing passenger traffic. The new airport construction began in 1946 and opened in 1952. Over the decades, passenger traffic increased for the airport, especially as US Airways developed it as a major hub and expanded its services both domestically and internationally. Additional runways were added or lengthened and changes made in the terminal. Traffic continued to increase. It is now the first U.S. airport to allow non ticketed passengers to the air side terminal since the September 11 attacks.
A major, nearly billion dollar expansion and improvements were undertaken by the county and airport authority in 1987 at the request of US Airways, which operated a hub there and took on major financing of the changes. The new facilities opened in 1992 and have been ranked highly by travelers and industry journals, with some of the design becoming a model for other airports. In the early 21st century, airlines struggled with changing financial conditions, and US Airways began scaling down its local operation, shifting to Philadelphia and Charlotte.
Since 2015, the airport has had success in attracting new low-cost carriers, including Allegiant Air, Frontier Airlines, and Spirit Airlines, along with international carriers Condor and British Airways.
Today, PIT serves a multitude of locations throughout the Northeast, Southeast, South, Midwest, Rocky Mountains and West Coast.
Pittsburgh International Airport is the busiest airport in western Pennsylvania and the second-busiest airport in the state, after Philadelphia International Airport. In 2018 it served 9,658,897 passengers, a 7.5% rise from the previous year.
- 1 Overview
- 2 History
- 3 Passenger complex
- 4 Airlines and destinations
- 5 Statistics
- 6 Ground transportation
- 7 Innovations
- 8 Runways
- 9 Additional operations
- 10 Future
- 11 Media portrayals
- 12 Accidents and incidents
- 13 See also
- 14 References
- 15 External links
The airport is encircled by I-376 and Business Loop 376, which is the main access for Airport Cargo and Servicing as well as other flight industries. It is owned by the county and operated by the Allegheny County Airport Authority, which also operates the Allegheny County Airport. PIT is primarily a passenger airport serving the Pittsburgh metropolitan area with an average of 414 flights per day to 74 destinations on 17 airlines. It also is the home of Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station, a combined facility of the Air Force Reserve Command and the Air National Guard, providing aerial refueling, air mobility and tactical airlift support to the U.S. Air Force and other U.S. Department of Defense activities. The airport also has an air cargo facility and supports general aviation operations.
PIT is the second-busiest passenger airport in Pennsylvania and 47th-busiest in the United States, serving 8,128,187 passengers in 2015. The airport has the second longest runway of a commercial airport in Pennsylvania at 11,500 feet (3,500 m), Philadelphia International Airport's longest runway is 12,000 feet in length. It also undertook numerous renovations of facilities in the late 20th century to accommodate increased passenger traffic, upgrading the terminal. Until 2004, US Airways' second largest hub was at PIT. In 2010, the airline remained PIT's largest carrier (handling 26 percent of passengers). On October 17, 2015, US Airways merged with American Airlines to become the world's largest airline. The new American Airlines uses fifteen gates, more than any other airline at PIT.
The airport has flights to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Europe. Nonstop transatlantic flights resumed on June 3, 2009, when Delta Air Lines began flights to Paris. This service ended in September 2018. Other international destinations include Toronto, Canada; Montreal, Canada; Cancun, Mexico; Punta Cana, the D.R.; London, England; as well as seasonal service to Frankfurt Germany; Jamaica (Montego Bay); and additional destinations in the D.R. (Puerto Plata and San Juan).
PIT occupies 10,000 acres (40.5 km2).
The Official Airline Guide Worldwide listed PIT on its short list of the world's best airports for four consecutive years. The market research leader, JD Power and Associates, named PIT among the top five airports in its two most recent customer satisfaction surveys. Conde Nast Traveler's Magazine ranked PIT as the best in 1999 in the United States and third in the world in its 2000 People's Choice Award. In 2011 Conde Nast Traveler ranked the facility as the 7th best for business travelers.
Until the beginning of World War II, Moon Township was mostly a rural agricultural area. It was not considered a suburb of downtown Pittsburgh as it was too distant. It was served solely by Pittsburgh-based state and federal services and media. In the early 1920s John A. Bell of Carnegie purchased a number of small farms in Moon and established a commercial dairy farm on his 1,900 acres (8 km2) of land. He was bought out by E.E. Rieck and his wife, and C.F. Nettrour, owners of the established "Rieck's" Dairy. They doubled the number of cattle at the farm.
Around 1940 the federal government, through the Works Progress Administration (WPA), determined that the Pittsburgh area needed a military airport to defend the industrial wealth of the area and to provide a training base and stop-over facility. The administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt was continuing to invest in infrastructure across the country in the waning years of the Great Depression, before the US entered World War II, which had started in 1939. The agricultural expanses of Moon Township were attractive to airport planners in the city. The Civil Aeronautics Administration proposed $2.6 million to the county for a $6 million field in August 1941 ($44.3 million and $102 million present day dollars). The County bought the Bell Farm, and federal agencies began construction of the runways on April 20, 1942, after the US had entered the war.
In 1944 Allegheny County officials proposed to expand the military airport with the addition of a commercial passenger terminal to relieve the Allegheny County Airport, which was built in 1926 and was becoming too small. Ground was broken on the new passenger terminal on July 18, 1946. The new terminal would eventually cost $33 million ($311 million present day dollars) and was built entirely by Pittsburgh-area companies. The new airport, christened as Greater Pittsburgh Airport (renamed Greater Pittsburgh International Airport in 1972 upon the opening of the International Arrivals Building) opened on May 31, 1952. The first flight was on June 3, 1952. In its full year of operation in 1953, more than 1.4 million passengers used the terminal. "Greater Pitt" was then considered modern and spacious. The airport terminal was the largest in the United States, second only to Idlewild Airport's (now JFK Airport) in New York when it was completed five years later. The airport's capacity is one of its most valuable assets.
The airport was designed by local architect Joseph W. Hoover. One of the features of his style is the use of simple, exposed concrete, steel, and glass materials. The terminal building was constructed in "stepped" levels: the first floor extended farther than the second, the second floor extended farther than the third, etc. Such a design meant that the uncovered roof of the lower level could be an observation deck. In addition to the observation decks, the rounded "Horizon Room" was on the fourth floor with a commanding view of the airport. The interior of the terminal building was in the contemporary International Style, as was the exterior. One of the memorable features of the lobby was the large compass laid in the floor with green and yellow-orange terrazzo. A mobile by Alexander Calder was another decorative feature of the lobby. The mobile hangs in the center core of the new airside terminal. A re-creation of the compass was installed in the new terminal at an exhibit dedicated to old "Greater Pitt".
Growth of a major airport
The first five airlines of the Greater Pittsburgh Airport were TWA, Capital Airlines (later part of United), Northwest, All American (later Allegheny Airlines, then USAir, and finally US Airways), and Eastern Airlines. The April 1957 Airline Guide shows 58 weekday departures on Capital, 54 TWA, 18 Allegheny, 8 United, 7 Eastern, 4 Northwest, 3 American and 2 Lake Central. Eastern had nonstops to Miami, but westward nonstops did not reach beyond St Louis. TWA had an overnight Lockheed 1049G Super Constellation nonstop from Los Angeles ("Berths Available"). The first jets were TWA 707s on the LAX-ORD-PIT round trip in summer 1959.
The 1956 diagram shows runway 10/28 7500 ft, 5/23 5766 ft and 14/32 5965 ft. The longest runway was still 7500 ft when jets started in 1959 but was soon extended to 8000 ft. The 10500-ft runway 10L was added by 1965.
In 1959 the east dock was added to the terminal, and on July 25, 1959 TWA started Boeing 707 flights. On July 1, 1968, international airport status was obtained with the dedication of the first customs office at the complex. Ground was broken for the International Wing, west of the original terminal building, on July 8, 1970. It opened in 1972 to accommodate federal inspection services; international flights (Nordair 737s YUL-YHM-PIT) began in 1971–72.
From the 1960s to about 1985, Trans World Airlines had a small hub at Pittsburgh. It began direct transatlantic flights in May 1981, to London Heathrow via PHL and nonstop to Gatwick. Neither lasted long; the next transatlantic nonstop may have been USAir's 767 to Frankfurt about 1990. The nonstop Frankfurt service was revived by foreign carrier Condor. The service is two times weekly on Condor's Boeing 767-300ER aircraft.
In 1985 the first transatlantic flight on a foreign airline came to Pittsburgh: British Airways Boeing 747-200s. The initial route was Pittsburgh to London–Heathrow via Washington, D.C. The stop was later changed to Philadelphia. Later, British Airways moved the non-stop flight to London–Gatwick, with a change to London–Heathrow again with a stop in Montreal during the winter. The airline ended service at Pittsburgh on October 31, 1999. In 2000, US Airways picked up the route to London–Gatwick but canceled it in 2004. British Airways has announced it will return to Pittsburgh in April 2019 with four weekly flights from London Heathrow on their 787-8 Aircraft.
In 1972 rotundas were added to the end of each dock to allow more gates. In the later 1970s growth in regional air travel created a need for more gates. In 1980 the South East Dock was opened. Even with these expansions, the terminal was too small.
In 1987, with the financial backing of USAir (then the dominant carrier in Pittsburgh), work commenced on a billion-dollar expansion. On October 1, 1992, the new complex opened, with operations having been transferred overnight from the old terminal. (The old terminal was kept until 1999 to house remaining operations offices.) The new terminal had numerous innovative features, including an AirMall, with more than 100 retailers and eateries (more defined in Passenger Complex section of this article). The new Landside/Airside design construction eliminated the need for connecting passengers to go through security more than once.
The Airside Terminal at Pittsburgh International, which was designed by Tasso Katselas Associates, Inc., became a model for other airports around the world. Its design simplified aircraft movement on the airfield and enabled easy pedestrian traffic to the gates.
Decline of US Airways
The May 1995 timetable shows USAir nonstops from PIT to 91 airports, plus 28 more on USAir Express. By the late 1990s growth had leveled off, with USAir concentrating on expanding at Philadelphia and Charlotte/Douglas International Airport. In 1997 the airport handled almost 21 million passengers, more than any previous year.
Tough economic conditions for airlines at the start of the 21st century, the September 11 attacks, and high operating costs at the airport put the US Airways hub in Pittsburgh at a serious disadvantage. By 2003, US Airways reported to be running a $40 million loss per year ($54.5 million present day dollars) operating its hub at Pittsburgh, while also paying roughly 80% of the new airport's $673 million debt ($917 million present day dollars) stemming from its requested construction of the new terminals.
After failed negotiations to lower landing fees and debt obligation, the airline announced in 2004 that it would be reducing operations at Pittsburgh, shifting hub operations to Charlotte and Philadelphia. By the end of 2005 the airline had eliminated 7,000 jobs while operating roughly 200 flights per day, mostly domestic. It ceased all service to Europe. A year later, US Airways had only about 170 flights per day to and from Pittsburgh, most being domestic flights. Unrelenting flight and job cuts continued through the decade; accompanied by the airline's closure of Concourse E on the Landside Terminal and Concourse A on the Airside Terminal. By the end of the decade, US Airways had reduced to 68 flights per day, operating from ten gates on Concourse B, and one US Airways Club location. Numerous US Airways ticketing and customer service counters were abandoned, and 15 gates on Concourse A and B were sealed off from the rest of the airport.
Rise of other carriers
While US Airways made immense cuts in service during the early 21st century, other carriers began to play a more dominant role at PIT. The airport's operator, the Allegheny County Airport Authority, has attempted to attract new service to the airport, particularly low-cost and international carriers. AirTran Airways, which had trouble competing in Pittsburgh after beginning service in 2000, was able to expand Pittsburgh offerings after the US Airways cuts. In 2003, USA3000 Airlines began service to Florida and subsequently expanded to include international destinations in the Caribbean. Southwest Airlines began service to Pittsburgh in May 2005 and broke US Airways's monopolies on Tampa, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Philadelphia, and brought more competition to the Chicago and Orlando markets. As of March 2017, Southwest served 17 destinations from the airport, more than any other incumbent carrier. JetBlue Airways began service on June 30, 2006, with flights to Boston-Logan and New York-Kennedy, thus in turn breaking US Airways' monopoly on Boston and added more competition to the New York market. Myrtle Beach Direct Air began service in March 2007. Combined increases in competition and diversification of carriers at the airport led to a decline in average airfares by roughly 30%, lowering notoriously high fares once commonplace for the airport. In May 2015, it was announced that Southwest Airlines was looking into expanding in Pittsburgh and possibly designating it as a focus city. In September 2015, Toronto based regional carrier Porter Airlines began daily non-stop service from Pittsburgh to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.
Pittsburgh has also been successful in attracting ultra low-cost airlines to the region. Allegiant Air commenced service in February 2015 and has been expanding ever since, establishing a base of operations in Pittsburgh on December 24, 2015, and serving nine destinations as of December 2016. Frontier Airlines also began service to five destinations in June 2016, although service was cut back to three destinations just four months later. Spirit Airlines commenced service to seven destinations between May 2017 and July 2017.
In June 2017, WOW air began year-round service to Reykjavik, Iceland, while Condor started seasonal flights to Frankfurt, Germany. The two airlines were the first from Europe to serve Pittsburgh since British Airways halted their service to London in 1999. In November 2018, WOW air announced that flights from Pittsburgh (among others) were currently on hold as it evaluated new operations strategies to address some of its financial difficulties. In January 2019, the airline announced plans to shrink its United States destinations to just four cities (Pittsburgh not being one of them) in order to continue to try to stabilize its finances. In March 2019, WOW air announced its bankruptcy and the immediate termination of all passenger flights, including the permanent end of all Pittsburgh to Iceland flights.
In April, British Airways began nonstop service between Pittsburgh International and London Heathrow Airport, the first time in 20 years that a flight has connected these two cities.  Unlike the previous flight to London Gatwick, this flight lands at a connection-rich British Airways hub that connects Pittsburgh to many European destinations with only one layover. This flight is served with a Boeing 787-8 aircraft, currently the largest passenger plane to fly into or out of Pittsburgh International.
The airport has also had success in 2019 in attracting additional domestic flights. Via Airlines designated Pittsburgh as a new focus city with plans for direct service to Birmingham, AL, Memphis, TN, and Hartford, CT. The airline will also serve Austin, TX via Memphis. In February, Allegiant Air announced new nonstop service to Knoxville, TN that will begin May 17. Pittsburgh's growing reputation as a technology focused city also helped secure new connections to other technology hubs: a Delta route to Raleigh-Durham International Airport and a second daily flight to San Francisco International Airport. 
From September 5, 2017, non-ticketed persons were allowed to access the airside terminal and gates, similar to pre 9/11 policy. Pittsburgh was the first airport (since 9/11) in the nation to allow non-passengers to pass through security to dine and shop in a post-security terminal. Participants can sign up for myPITpass on the airport's website and must pass through the alternate security checkpoint before continuing through to the Airmall in the airside terminal. 
Airport property development
Aside from commercial flights, other resources in and around the airport have been developed in recent years. In November 2008, the airport, helped by the volunteer ambassadors, opened a new Military Comfort Center at Gate A4 to serve traveling military and their families. Dick's Sporting Goods constructed a new global headquarters and hangar on the airport complex in early 2010. A major logistics center was constructed and opened in 2010.
Since 1997, US Airways maintained its OpsCenter in the metro Pittsburgh area. After the merger with America West the airline had two centers both with limited (pre-merger) capacity, the other being America West's inherited center near Phoenix. Pittsburgh International won a three-way competition between Phoenix and Charlotte for the new combined airlines state of the art operations center.
In October 2007, US Airways announced that it had selected Pittsburgh as the site of its new 60,000 sq ft (5,600 m2) flight operations center, which serves as the nerve center of the airline's 1,400 daily mainline flights. The $25 million ($29.1 million present day dollars), 72,000-square-foot (6,700 m2) facility on a far corner of Airport property began operations in November 2008. With a staff of over 600 specialists, it coordinated all arrivals, departures and inflight services in the global US Airways system 24 hours a day, seven days per week. The center has since relocated to Dallas/Ft. Worth.
The airport complex consists of two main buildings, the "Landside Terminal" and the "Airside Terminal". They are linked by the Pittsburgh airport underground people mover after the security checkpoint. It is run fully by computers with no human control aside from emergencies.
The landside terminal is the building closer to the parking areas and the entry point for passengers whose flights originate from Pittsburgh. It includes ticketing, all domestic baggage claim areas, security checkpoints, and ground transportation such as taxi, limo, and the Port Authority's 28X airport shuttle. A 331-room Hyatt Regency hotel/convention center opened on June 29, 2000, and is directly attached via moving walkway to the terminal. Several shops and cafes occupy the Landside Terminal including Travelmart, Sue Venir, Dunkin Donuts, and Travelex currency services. There are Travelers Aid desks on the transit and baggage claim levels as well as Airport Police Headquarters.
After passing through the security checkpoint, passengers board one of two underground people movers that travel to the Airside Terminal, where all departure gates are located. The people mover system was built and operated by Bombardier Transportation and is completely controlled by computer.
The current landside terminal will be replaced in 2023 with an (estimated) $1.1 billion USD landside terminal connected directly to the airside terminal where concourses C & D are. This will eliminate 12 gates from the airport. This will result in the deprecation of the people mover and the construction of new parking.
The Airside Terminal consists of four concourses (A, B, C, D) that hold the departure gates. The center core contains the majority of the AirMall shops. There are over 100 shops. On the mezzanine level are the Admirals Club and a chapel. There are also Carnegie Science Center and other historic sites Pittsburgh Aviation History Displays located throughout the airport.
The modernization plan for PIT unveiled in 2018 shows a consolidated airside and landside terminal.
Despite signs indicating more gates in concourses C and D, the airport has 75 gates on four concourses; however, only 69 gates are available for use.
Concourse B has 25 gates: B26–B50; however, only gates B26-B44 are available for use. Concourse B is used by Alaska Airlines, American, American Eagle, JetBlue, Southern Airways Express, and Spirit. Several concessionaires still operate in the concourse.
Concourse C (International Concourse)
Concourse C has 11 gates: C51–C61. All international arrivals, except for cities with United States border preclearance, pass through Concourse C as customs and immigration is located on its lower level. Even though this is the International Concourse, some domestic flights go in and out of Concourse C. Gates C55 and C57–C61 at the end of the concourse are designated to accommodate international traffic. Gate C61 includes a dual jetway to accommodate widebody aircraft such as the Airbus A380, but it had been designed for British Airways' Boeing 747, and the Airbus A330. The concourse also includes a children's play area, and an exhibit commemorating Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, the long-running public television series that originated from Pittsburgh. Concourse C is utilized by Allegiant Air, British Airways, Condor, China Eastern Airlines, Sunwing, Swift Air, and VivaAerobús for all flights, as well as Delta and Southwest for international flights. The airport's military lounge is located before gate C56.
The Club Lounge opened in October 2017 and is located in the C Concourse across from gate C-52 near the center core.
Airlines and destinations
Pittsburgh International Airport has a sizeable freight business, with a Free-trade zone of 5,000 acres (20 km2), access to three class-one railroad freight lines, one interstate highway, and a location a few miles from the nation's second largest inland port. The airport's three largest cargo carriers account for over 100 million pounds (45 million kg) of freight per year. Three cargo buildings provide more than 183,000 square feet (17,001 m2) of warehouse capacity and over 450,000 square feet (41,806 m2) of apron space.
LogisticsCentre, a master planned industrial park at the intersection of Business Route 60 and International Drive, is a 440-acre (1.8 km2) North Field site to contain 900,000 square feet (84,000 m2) of Class A warehouse, distribution and air cargo space. Current tenants include Dick's Sporting Goods new world headquarters. It is located within Foreign Trade Zone No. 33.
Pittsburgh International Airport is the main distribution point in America for Wings Logistics Cargo.
Construction of a $6.62 million (Present day dollars) cargo complex began at the airport in 1987.
|FedEx Express||Indianapolis, Memphis, Newark, Philadelphia|
|FedEx Feeder||State College|
|Qatar Airways Cargo||Doha, Luxembourg|
|UPS Airlines|| Louisville, Philadelphia|
International food cargo hub
The world's leading caterer for air and business, LSG SkyChefs, in 2007 chose Pittsburgh as its sole Western Hemisphere manufacturing facility. It expanded its customer service center on the cargo side of the airport by 20,000 square feet (1,900 m2) and now employs over 100 people with the capacity of making nearly 25 million meals per year for distribution to flights all over the Americas. LSG SkyChefs cited the region's strategic location for air and truck transport to major suppliers and customers, as well as the airport's excellent record in maintaining and expanding capacity.
|1||Atlanta, Georgia||440,140||Delta, Southwest|
|2||Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois||324,340||American, United|
|3||Charlotte, North Carolina||289,000||American|
|4||Orlando, Florida||259,570||Delta, Southwest, Spirit|
|5||Boston, Massachusetts||215,840||Delta, JetBlue|
|6||Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas||200,760||American|
|8||Denver, Colorado||178,160||Frontier, Southwest, United|
|9||New York–LaGuardia, New York||161,120||American, Delta|
|10||Fort Lauderdale, Florida||152,400||Southwest, Spirit|
|3||Delta Air Lines||1,545,938||17.2%|
PIT is located at Exit 53 of Interstate 376 and the Western Terminus Pennsylvania Route 576 (future I-576), and within 10 miles (20 km) of Interstate 79 and 15 miles (24 km) of Interstate 76, the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Interstate 70 to the south and Interstate 80 to the north are both less than an hour away. Just beyond Interstates 70 and 80, Interstate 77 to the west and Interstate 68 to the south are within 90 minutes of the airport.
PIT offers on-site parking operated by the Grant Oliver Corporation and patrolled by the Allegheny County Police. Grant Oliver offers usage of a GO FAST Pass account to pay for parking electronically at the airport. Go Fast Pass customers may register their E-Zpass transponders to use with the system, although billing and other aspects of the system are entirely handled by Grant Oliver. There are regular parking shuttles to the Long Term and Extended lots that can be accessed from the Baggage Claim level of the Landside Terminal outside doors six and eight.
There are three options for parking: Short Term, Long Term, and Extended. The Short Term garage is attached to the Landside Terminal via the enclosed moving walkway. There are 2,100 spaces available. The Long Term section also has quick access to the enclosed moving walkway. There are 3,100 spaces available here. The Extended section does not have access to the enclosed moving walkway but does have regular parking shuttles that can be accessed from the Baggage Claim level of the Landside Terminal outside doors six and eight. There are 8,000 spaces available in the Extended lot.
Bus service is also available from Downtown Pittsburgh and the city's University District (Oakland) via the Port Authority of Allegheny County's 28X Route. Mountain Line Transit's Grey Line also has service to areas south of Pittsburgh including Waynesburg, Pennsylvania; Morgantown, Fairmont, and Clarksburg, West Virginia. BCTA Transit formerly served locations north and westbound from the airport.
|Airport Flyer via West Busway|
|28X||Universities, Downtown Pittsburgh, PIT||West Busway, Duquesne Incline, Downtown Pittsburgh, Point Park University, Duquesne University, University of Pittsburgh, Oakland, Carnegie Mellon University|
|#29||Morgantown, PIT, Downtown Pittsburgh||Clarksburg, Fairmont, Morgantown, Waynesburg, PIT, Downtown Pittsburgh|
There is no rapid transit to Pittsburgh International Airport. Former Allegheny County chief executive Dan Onorato had hoped to extend the Pittsburgh Light Rail system to the airport. In 2009, Onorato and Congressman Mike Doyle requested approximately $7 million in funding from the federal government for preliminary planning of the extension. The Obama administration in 2009 funded further research in the decade-long proposal to install a Maglev line from Pittsburgh International east to Downtown Pittsburgh and the eastern suburbs of Monroeville, Pennsylvania and Greensburg, Pennsylvania. However, the assets from the planned maglev were auctioned off in late February 2012.
Free wireless internet throughout a passenger terminal was a rarity when Pittsburgh International Airport launched the service on September 19, 2003, a service that has since been implemented at airports around the world. The airport became the first in the world to offer fare alert emails on February 2, 2004. The airport innovated proactive emails on airfare discounts by carrier and destination weekly. The service's success was recognized by the Airports Council International for Excellence in Marketing and Communications in 2007 as first place in North America. Pittsburgh International Airport also helped to innovate electronic parking at airports nationwide with its GoFastPass system – a system similar to E-ZPass.
The AirMall at the airport also provided several world firsts in featuring fair "street prices" to air travelers and in being the first major and diverse shopping center located within an airport terminal when it opened in 1992 with over 100 name brand retailers. Pittsburgh's AirMall has been internationally recognized for its retail operations, such as four straight first-place rankings by Airport Revenue News from 2003 through 2006.
Upon opening in 1992, local shoppers were able to visit the AirMall without a boarding pass. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, only ticketed passengers and airport and airline employees were permitted to enter the AirMall. Business dropped considerably due to the tighter regulations, though it later resumed its pre-9/11 levels. With the new "myPITpass" program, non ticketed passengers are allowed to shop in the air side terminal for the first time since 9/11.
Pittsburgh was one of the first airports to deploy dozens of portable defibrillators, and developed the first volunteer ambassador program. On April 17, 2007 PIT was chosen as one of three airports (along with DFW and Detroit) for a pilot program to allow guests at the airport hotel to have terminal access to the AirMall. Guests at the Hyatt Regency were able to request security passes to be able to be screened at the security checkpoint and enter the AirMall.
Southwest Airlines had named its Pittsburgh base as the best in its system for 2006, in its first full year of service at PIT. Among the factors in the award were on-time performance and efficient baggage service.
Front discharge spray bars were used during winter weather at Pittsburgh for the first time.
The control tower at the airport was completed in March 1985, as the tallest FAA-owned tower, at 227 feet and a cost of $12 million ($28 million present day dollars).
Public terminal access ("myPITpass")
Pittsburgh International Airport has become the only commercial airport in the United States to allow public access to the shops, restaurants, and gates beyond the TSA checkpoint after 9/11. The policy, named "myPITpass", has caused much debate, notably by flight attendants. Worries about TSA line length and security have arisen. Visitors still have to have their bags screened, and show their ID at the TSA checkpoint.
PIT has a wide, open layout and four runways, three east-west parallel runways and a fourth crosswind runway. The airport's two longest runways are 11,500 feet (3,510 m) and 10,775 feet (3,280 m), allowing PIT to accommodate the largest airliners. Because of the development of non-aviation related business on airport land, PIT can add only one more runway (this number was as high as four in the past).
With three parallel runways, simultaneous landings and/or departures can be performed in nearly any situation.
Runways 10L and 10R have Category III ILS (Instrument Landing System) approaches. Runway 28R is certified for Category I ILS and is authorized for Category II approaches but requires special aircrew and aircraft certification. Runways 28L and 32 have Category I ILS approaches and Runways 10C/28C has LOC/GS. All runways have GPS approaches as well.
The 1991 master plan done during the construction of the new midfield terminal for US Airways' hub called for the eventual addition of four runways giving a total of eight. Along with a parallel second "crosswind" runway of 9,000 feet at the southwest corner of the complex, three additional parallel east-west runways of 8,200 and 8,500 feet were to be built on the southern end of the complex with an 8,200-foot runway on the northwest section.
With the latest construction at the airport, Runway 10C/28C was extended to 10,775 feet.
Although the U.S. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard maintain a great presence on that corner of the complex, the shuttering of some of the Air Force facilities in recent decades has led to the growth of a new tenant for that equipment at Pittsburgh. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has taken over much of the excess Cold War-era infrastructure that the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard no longer needs, making Pittsburgh recently an important regional center for the agency.
The Allegheny County Airport Authority Fire Bureau operates a next-generation, state of the art Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting (ARFF) Training Center.
As an FAA regional training facility it comes equipped with a Boeing 757 mock-up offering realistic and challenging training. The simulated tail engine offers ARFF personnel critical high engine training scenarios. Adjacent to the first-training simulator is a four-story tower that houses the Computer Center ensuring consistent repeatable evolutions for each trainee and allows training to be conducted with the utmost safety of participants in mind. Being well within the airport boundary and designed to be in an area that minimizes distractions, the classrooms, management center, vehicle bay, trainee/equipment support areas and visitors center are located directly adjacent to the training grounds. This layout maximizes training time for students. The use of propane and control of water run-off combine to reduce environmental impact while providing quality occupational education for fire fighters, emergency responders and industrial personnel.
The year-round training facility offers specialized sessions in cold climate training evolutions. The system is propane fueled and computer controlled. It features a number of burn scenarios including:
- 12,280-square-foot (1,141 m2) fuel spill burn area
- Wing engine fire
- Wheel/brake fire
- Galley fire
- Cockpit fire
- Passenger compartment fire
- Lavatory/trash receptacle fire
- Flashover simulation
Free trade zone
The new Business Aviation Center (FBO Avcenter), located at the site of the former airport terminal building, is a modern and full service facility for management of corporate air travel and general aviation. It includes a 30,000-square-foot (2,800 m2) hangar, 7,250 square feet (674 m2) of flex office space, charter terminal facilities, conference rooms, passenger lounges, workout rooms, and a restaurant. It is accessible by using Business Loop 376 in Moon Township.
|Netjets||Chartered flights across North America|
|Miami Air||Chartered flights across North America; chartered flights for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Via Air||Flights to Atlantic City on behalf of Total Rewards|
In September 2017, Allegheny County Airport Authority officials announced a $1.1 billion plan to reconfigure the terminal complex, including a brand new landside terminal and a new parking garage. Under this proposal, the current landside building would be demolished if another use is not found, and the number of gates be reduced from 75 down to 51. A new landside building would be constructed between the airside terminal's concourses C and D, with new security and baggage facilities, a new international arrivals area, and many other amenities to serve passengers. The board chairman of the Airport Authority, David Minnotte, said that "The people of Pittsburgh finally get an airport built for them and not USAir". No taxpayer dollars would be used to construct the new facility, and it will be instead financed with floating bonds, grants, passenger facility charges, and revenue from natural gas drilling on airport property. They hope to start constructing the new facility in 2019 and have it completed by 2023.
PIT has hosted major Hollywood productions, including:
|The Song Remains the Same||1973||The old PIT (1952–1992) in a documentary of Led Zeppelin's 1973 tour. Many other Pittsburgh landmarks are also shown, including the Fort Pitt Tunnel, the Fort Pitt Bridge and Three Rivers Stadium.|
|Only You||1994||During the beginning of the film when Marisa Tomei's character rushes to the Airport to meet her soul mate and then flies to Venice|
|Houseguest||1995||When all characters are introduced into the film, Sinbad attempts to escape from the mob at the Airport landside terminal and convinces Phil Hartman and his family that he is his long-lost classmate.|
|The Young and the Restless||March 1998||As a stand-in for the fictional Genoa City International Airport.|
|Dogma||1999||During the opening scenes with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as a stand-in for a Wisconsin airport|
|Screwed||2000||With Dave Chappelle, Norm Macdonald, Sarah Silverman and Danny DeVito|
|The Daily Show||2002|||
|The King of Queens||2005||Episode: "Wish Boned"|
|Smart People||2008||With Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church|
|Zack and Miri Make a Porno||2008|||
|She's Out of My League||2010||Used during most airport scenes. Other segments were simulated using Century III Mall located nearby.|
|The Next Three Days||2010||Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks drama filming in the landside terminal at the fictional Canadian Southern Airlines counter and at the airside terminal at the Southwest Airlines gates.|
|Love the Coopers||2015||Used for all airport scenes.|
Accidents and incidents
|July 28, 2011||Lockheed Martin "HALE-D"||An unmanned U.S. Army/Lockheed Martin experimental "HALE-D" airship that took off at 5 am at Wright Patterson Air Force Base crash lands from 32,000 feet at 8:30 am south of the airport between New Freeport and Gilmore.|
|November 22, 2001||Corporate Learjet||Crashed after a rapid takeoff in which it went "nose-high" before the Pilot Flying (PF) lost control, both on board were killed.|
|September 8, 1994||USAir Flight 427||Crashed on approach from Chicago O'Hare International Airport. All 132 people on board were killed. It resulted in the longest and most thorough NTSB investigation in history. It was determined that a lock occurred in rudder control that caused the plane to fall uncontrollably from 6,000 feet (1,800 m). Boeing has retrofitted every 737 because of the data gathered from this crash. The plane crashed roughly 10 miles (16 km) North-Northwest in Hopewell Township.|
|July 31, 1969||Trans World Airlines Flight 79||Hijacked en route from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles International Airport by bank robber Lester Perry Jr. who was being transferred to a new prison. Though accompanied by a U.S. marshal and a correctional officer, Perry was allowed to go to the lavatory unaccompanied where he found a razor blade. Perry then held hostage a flight attendant and demanded to be taken to Havana, Cuba. Upon landing at José Martí International Airport Perry sought political asylum from the Cuban government.|
|1956||US Air Force Republic F-84F Thunderstreak||It was on a practice flight out of Pittsburgh when at appx. 700 ft over Hutchko field in Collier Township, Pa, the F-84's engine "flamed out". The aircraft attempted to glide back to Greater Pittsburgh Airport, but it stalled and crashed behind Holy Trinity Church, killing the pilot.|
|April 1, 1956||TWA Flight 400||It was a flight from Pittsburgh to Newark. It crashed about a half-mile after taking off when the Captain and First Officer did not immediately correct a small engine malfunction/fire. Due to miscommunication and lack of focus it caused failure and a crash. Twenty-two of 36 occupants were killed.|
|January 31, 1956||U.S. Air Force||North American TB-25N Mitchell 44-29125, on cross country flight from Nellis AFB, Nevada to Olmsted AFB, Pennsylvania, after departing Selfridge AFB, Michigan suffers fuel starvation NE of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in mid-afternoon, attempts to divert to Greater Pittsburgh AFB, ditches in the Monongahela River at the 4.9-mile (7.9 km) marker, west of the Homestead High-Level Bridge, drifts ~1.5 miles (2.4 km) downstream in 8–10 knots. current, remaining afloat for 10–15 minutes. All six crew evacuate but two are lost in the 35 °F (2 °C) water before rescue. Search for sunken bomber suspended February 14 with no success – aircraft is thought to have possibly settled in submerged gravel pit area in 32 feet (9.8 m) of water, ~150 feet (46 m) from shore, possibly now covered by 10–15 feet of silt. This crash remains one of the Pittsburgh region's unsolved mysteries.|
|December 22, 1954||DC-3 Military Charter||Ditched in the Monongahela River with 28 men on board after the pilot reported running out of fuel. 10 perished.|
|July 13, 1950||Beechcraft Commander||Two killed and one injured in a crash at Montour Country Club after engine failure.|
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pittsburgh International Airport.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Pittsburgh.|
- FlyPittsburgh.com official site
- PennDOT Bureau of Aviation: Pittsburgh International Airport
- (PDF), effective May 23, 2019
- Resources for this airport: