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Passenger traffic increases at Pittsburgh International Airport

| Friday, Feb. 13, 2015, 4:58 p.m.

Passenger traffic ticked up 1.5 percent at Pittsburgh International Airport in 2014, the first annual increase since 2011, officials said Friday.

The increase follows a dismal 2013 when fewer than 7.9 million passengers used the airport, the lowest total since 7.3 million flew out of the former Greater Pittsburgh International Airport in 1975. The airport's 2014 tally was just shy of 8 million passengers.

“I attribute the increase to new service like Sun Air Express and others,” Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis said at the airport authority's board meeting.

The airport announced some new nonstop routes last year, including the regional service from Sun Air Express. Cassotis said the push for new nonstop flights continues.

The authority board approved spending $41,100 to pay for airport officials to travel to the Routes World 2015 Forum in Durban, South Africa, in September. Cassotis said Pittsburgh officials had attended the yearly forum, but the additional money will allow for exhibition space and six 50-minute meetings with airlines they are courting.

“We need to get the message across that Pittsburgh is vibrant and growing,” Cassotis said.

The airport ended 2014 with a $4 million surplus, $1.8 million of which will be returned to the airlines. The refund will have little impact on rates and charges, CFO Jim Gill said. The airport's average per-passenger fee was $13.92 last year. The refund likely will decrease that average by one to two cents.

The authority's 2015 budget projects that, on average, airlines will spend $12.90 in fees per passenger to operate. The average among U.S. airports is $8.34 per passenger.

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

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