Sept. 13--Passengers at Pittsburgh International Airport will get to see all of the once-bustling Concourse A for the first time in five years.
Airport officials said Friday they opened 10 additional gates in the concourse and tore down a wall built in 2008 to close off space vacated after US Airways dropped Pittsburgh as a hub.
Eric Ruprecht, director of business and properties at the airport, said United and Continental and Southwest and AirTran wanted to be in the same concourse because of each pair's merger.
"We had walled off the end of Concourse A when US Airways cut back," Ruprecht said. "In order to (accommodate the merged airlines) we decided to open up additional gates."
Ruprecht said the additional gates are not related to increased passenger traffic. Passenger traffic is down compared to last year.
"It's really more for the convenience of passengers and airlines," he said.
Five years ago, declining flight service prompted the airport to close 27 gates and wall off far ends of concourses A and B -- a move that cut maintenance and utility costs by $1 million a year. Portions of B remain closed.
The move prompted three businesses to reopen, including a Quaker Steak & Lube and Mayorga Coffee Roasters Express, said Jay Kruisselbrink, vice-president of development for AirMall USA, which manages concessions at the airport.
" We think it will help with growth at the airport," Kruisselbrink said. "We didn't have much on (concourse) C where United was located. We never had the space or the passengers for much retail there."
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 busy hub for US Airways.
Recent monthly statistics show traffic dropped 1.9 percent in June compared with June 2012. Pittsburgh had 725,944 passengers in June, down from 740,113 passengers in June 2012, authority data show. Airport traffic dipped in 10 of the past 12 months reported, data show.
Two airlines reported monthly passenger gains, led by AirTran Airways, which had a 20.1 percent jump in passengers year-to-year. United Airlines also reported a modest 1.9 percent increase.
Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or email@example.com.
Copyright 2013 - The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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