Pittsburgh, Pa. Airport, Company Agree to New Lease

IMPERIAL, Pa. (AP) -- Pittsburgh International Airport and the company that manages the airport's indoor mall have agreed to a new lease that frees the company from making mandatory payments each year while giving the airport a larger share of sales.

The agreement reached Friday between the Allegheny County Airport Authority, which runs the airport, and BAA USA will extend the lease through 2017. The deal is designed to offset slumping business at the Airmall, a series of 100 shops and restaurants inside the main terminal, due to security restrictions triggered by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

BAA USA will no longer have to pay $3.3 million a year aside from rent, while the airport authority will get 59 percent of sales revenue at the Airmall, up from 56 percent. The new lease also eliminates a provision that required the airport authority to pay BAA USA $10 million if sales fell below $72 million a year.

Total sales at the Airmall have dropped from a peak of just under $90 million before the increased security went into effect and totaled $75 million in 2004, said Kent George, executive director of the airport.

Airport officials have been lobbying the federal Transportation Security Administration for more than two years to let people without tickets through security so they can shop in the Airmall. Federal officials last year delayed such a plan, saying the agency hadn't determined the best way to allow passengers to safely pass through security.