US Airways Doesn't See 'International' in Pittsburgh's Future

US Airways pulled most its international service in November 2004, during its second bankruptcy.


May 10--US Airways Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker dismissed the idea of bringing back major international service to Pittsburgh International Airport, saying yesterday the numbers just do not add up.

"Try as we may to try and make that work, we can't figure out a way to make it work," Mr. Parker said in a conference call with analysts and reporters. "Try as the community does to figure out ways to induce us, the inducements don't come close to getting the route to look like it would be profitable enough for us to reallocate flying to international service in Pittsburgh."

US Airways pulled most its international service in November 2004, during its second bankruptcy, dropping trans-Atlantic routes to London and Frankfurt as well as flights to several cities in Canada. It still flies to Toronto and had one weekend flight to San Juan and Cancun. Local officials have been after the company to restore some of the international service now that the company is out of bankruptcy and on firmer footing with merger partner America West Airlines.

"We don't stop trying just because we hit a hurdle," said Ken Zapinski of the Regional Air Service Partnership, a group involved in the campaign. "We know this was not an easy task. It is important to the region, so we keep moving ahead on that."

Mr. Parker and another US Airways executive, Scott Kirby, attributed the weak environment for international flights on size of the Pittsburgh market and the airport's successful attraction of low-cost carriers, including Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways.

The increase in competition drives down US Airways' connecting traffic, Mr. Parker said, "and when you do that, you lose international service."

But US Airways pulled many of its connecting flights well before the airport landed Southwest, which started service a year ago this month . "That is a difficult statement to respond to," said airport spokeswoman JoAnn Jenny. "The decline in connecting traffic occurred before we had some of the competitive low-cost carriers come to Pittsburgh. That was a business strategy that US Airways implemented that impacted Pittsburgh."

US Airways once had more than 500 daily flights at Pittsburgh International -- now it has fewer than 200. US Airways executives said they have no plans to reduce service further, although the market will lose 16 more daily flights when the job of supplying certain routes transfers from two US Airways code-share partners (Colgan Air and Air Midwest) to another (Regions Air).

Regions Air will transfer the routes -- Morgantown, Clarksburg and Parkersburg in West Virginia and Bradford and Jamestown in Pennsylvania -- to Cleveland instead. US Airways was not certain yesterday when that transfer would take place.

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