TribLIVE

| News

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Shale gas drilling helps Pittsburgh airport reduce fees again

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Bobby Kerlik
Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Money from a Marcellus shale drilling deal at Pittsburgh International Airport is fueling a second decrease this year in fees airlines pay to use the airport although county officials acknowledged the move may take time to attract more flights.

The Airport Authority is expected to approve the plan to cut the airlines' average cost per passenger by about 1.4 percent, or 19 cents, to $13.92 at its meeting Thursday. The decrease will make the airport more competitive and closer to the national average, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said Wednesday.

“The budget is dependent on airport revenues, how many flights, other revenues like parking, concessions,” Fitzgerald said. “Every airport is different. Us and some other airports are in a bad spot because we have the costs of a hub without the revenues of a hub.”

The median rate for airports is $7.33, according to Moody's Investors Service. Pittsburgh International began the year with fees at $14.66 per passenger but lowered them to $14.11 in July. Moody's upgraded the authority's bond rating earlier this year, citing the gas drilling revenue.

Todd Lehmacher, spokesman for US Airways, Pittsburgh's largest carrier, said the decrease won't result in immediate added flights, saying the schedule remains unchanged. He declined to say if the lower gate fees would result in lower ticket prices.

“It's important that fees are competitive in an industry that has such high fixed costs. We applaud the airport authority for lowering those,” Lehmacher said. “It's something we're very mindful of.”

Southwest Airlines, the airport's second-largest carrier did not return a call for comment. The airline said in July it did not have plans to add flights.

Airport Authority officials on July 1 began using part of the $46.3 million in advance payments the authority got from Cecil-based Consol Energy Inc. for natural gas drilling rights on the airport's 9,263 acres. The drilling deal, which officials finalized in February, could generate about $500 million for the airport authority, based on county estimates.

Pittsburgh served about 8 million passengers last year, down from 8.7 million in 2008 before the recession began and from 19.8 million in 2000, when the airport served as a bustling hub for US Airways.

Separately, the AirMall at the airport announced Wednesday six new high-end stores will open between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The stores include Pinko, runway-inspired clothing from Italy; Furla, leather and accessories known for Italian designs; Tumi, suitcases, briefcases and bags; Lacoste, the French apparel company which offers men's and women's clothes; Desigual, a Spanish brand known for its colorful women's clothes; and Collezioni — The Beauty Gallery, a store that offers fragrances, cosmetic and skincare brands.

The stores are part of a $10 million facelift the airport's center core is undergoing.

Airmall Vice President Jay Kruisselbrink said the stores will provide shoppers with unique stores not available elsewhere.

“Pinko, for example, that's its first U.S. store in the Airmall,” Kruisselbrink said. “It's fun. It's exciting. It's new and it's what the customer wants. The stores have a strong international flavor.”

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Allegheny

  1. Roman Catholic Church in midst of culture clash over gays
  2. 2 killed in single-vehicle crash in Pittsburgh
  3. Snake bites on the rise in Western Pa.
  4. Author of Americans with Disabilities Act celebrates its effects in Carnegie
  5. Pittsburgh police motorcycle officer seriously injured in crash
  6. Peduto pushes for affordable housing in East Liberty redevelopment
  7. Newsmaker: Mark Rubenstein
  8. Western Pa. prosecutors zero in on human trafficking; legislation pending
  9. Derry boy recovering at home after high-profile intestinal transplant
  10. Proposed 8-story apartment complex called too tall in North Side’s Garden Theater area
  11. Allegheny RAD executive director moving on after 2 decades