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Allegheny Airport Authority to renovate jetways for airports

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Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009

The Allegheny County Airport Authority hopes to generate up to $500,000 a year by renovating jetways for a Chicago-based company, airport officials said Friday.

The authority board approved an agreement with JBT Aerotech, which provides ground support equipment and services for airports, to fix up jetways — the enclosed walkways that connect terminals with airplanes — for the company's customers east of the Mississippi River.

"We'll be a rehabilitation depot for them in the eastern United States," said Brad Penrod, the authority's executive director.

The authority last year began a project to sell off 11 jetways it owns and refurbish 23 others. So far, authority workers have refurbished six of the jetways.

Penrod expects the authority to handle repairs on up to 10 jetways a year for JBT Aerotech, with each generating about $50,000 in revenue.

Mechanics, electricians and maintenance employees with the authority will work on the jetways — fixing wiring and electrical systems, painting the jetways and replacing worn-out carpeting and lights, for example.

The authority board voted unanimously yesterday to hire the Westborough, Mass.-based firm Noresco to find ways to reduce energy costs at Pittsburgh International Airport. The study will cost $249,000.

The decision ends an 18-month search that turned contentious last year after one of two original bidders for the contract, Siemens Building Technologies Inc. of Bridgeville, charged that politics were playing a role in the process.

That prompted the authority to scrap the initial bids and start over. Six companies, including Noresco and Siemens, bid for the contract the second time.

"I really believe we got it right ... and I'm totally satisfied at this point that the stalemate we reached previously with this contract was worth it," said board member Rich Stanizzo.

Penrod said the authority could ultimately make $8 million to $16 million in capital improvements as a result of the study, an amount he said could "pay (itself) back in four to eight years" through anticipated energy savings of up to $2 million a year.

Additional Information:

Passenger count slumps

Pittsburgh International Airport had 751,609 passengers in July, an 8.7-percent decrease compared to July 2008, the Allegheny County Airport Authority reported Friday.

US Airways, the airport's busiest carrier, had the largest decline. It had 219,246 passengers, or 29 percent of all airport traffic, in July compared with 267,859 in the same month last year, an 18 percent drop.

Only three of the airport's 13 carriers reported year-to-year passenger gains: AirTran Airways, Southwest Airlines and Myrtle Beach Direct Air.

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