Pittsburgh International Airport remains powerhouse for region
Pittsburgh International Airport remains a major economic engine for the region, directly and indirectly supporting 71,000 jobs that last year pumped $5.7 billion into the economy, airport officials said Friday.
But the airport supported almost 24,000 fewer jobs than it did in 2000, resulting in an inflation-adjusted $1.1 billion in reduced economic activity, according to airport data.
Beyond the overall losses, airport jobs pay less, on average, than they did at the start of the decade. Yet, the cost of doing business is up for some companies because flight cuts have lengthened business trips to cities that once had nonstop service from Pittsburgh, a local airline industry analyst said.
"It's hard to compare the two sets of numbers," said Brad Penrod, executive director of the Allegheny County Airport Authority, referring to economic analyses of the airport in 2000 and last year.
In 2000, Pittsburgh International was a bustling US Airways hub, with 20 million passengers and 615 daily flights to 114 destinations. Today, no longer a hub, Pittsburgh has 150 daily flights to 38 destinations and is expected to finish the year with 8.1 million passengers, a record-low for the 17-year-old airport.
Low-cost carriers flocked to Pittsburgh after the hub closed, resulting in cheaper fares. But thousands of jobs were lost with the hundreds of flights, including ones at former pilot and flight-attendant bases and a large reservations center. US Airways' locally based employment alone fell from more than 12,000 at the start of the decade to about 2,000.
"Many of those (departing) jobs paid well," said Bill Lauer, a Sewickley-based airline industry analyst.
The authority paid the consulting firm Wilbur Smith Associates $67,800 to determine the economic impact of Pittsburgh International and the Allegheny County Airport.
Wilbur Smith, which also did the 2000 study, looked at economic activity tied directly to the airports, including military installations near Pittsburgh International and business park companies on authority property. The firm analyzed indirect employment at restaurants, hotels and other businesses supporting the airports.
According to last year's study, released Friday, Pittsburgh International directly and indirectly supported 71,160 jobs with wages totaling $2.1 billion, or $29,511 per job, and had an overall economic impact of $5.7 billion. Direct, on-airport employment totaled 12,100 jobs with combined wages of $540.2 million, or $44,645 per job.
Authority Chairman Glenn R. Mahone said the airport's direct employment "means Pittsburgh International Airport has the fifth-highest number of employees in the Pittsburgh metro area." Authority spokeswoman JoAnn Jenny could not identify the other four.
Still, the 2000 study showed that the 94,800 jobs directly and indirectly supported by Pittsburgh International generated an inflation-adjusted $3.4 billion in wages, or $35,610 per job, and $6.8 billion in overall economic activity. That study did not include data on direct, on-airport employment.
"It's obvious the airport is an absolutely critical component in the region's overall economy," Lauer said. "But in terms of high-paying jobs and the value of the airport ... the loss of (service offered from the hub operated by) US Airways was critical."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Authorities recover rifle used to kill Westmoreland police officer
- Kane turns to former Maryland attorney general to lead porn email probe
- Chicago mayor fires police chief in wake of video release
- Founder of Z&M Cycle Sales in Hempfield killed in Florida motorcycle crash
- Starkey: Tomlin lived in his fears
- Film session: Long shots dotted Steelers’ passing game
- 2,200 union employees of ATI lose coverage
- Steelers receiver Wheaton takes advantage of opportunity in breakout game
- Slain St. Clair officer walked into ‘worst nightmare’ for police
- Woman gets probation in deadly shooting outside Pittsburgh bar
- Increasing player salaries pinch financial flexibility of Pirates