On Monday, March 22nd, Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) received the green light from airlines to restart its modernization program. While the budget has increased slightly, airlines are willing to put forward the funding to make the airport a better place for passengers, employees, and carriers. As the airport works out the final details, the new terminal is expected to open up, if all goes well, in 2025.
Good news for PIT
Airlines agreed on March 17th to fund $182 million in construction site prep work for the Terminal Modernization Program (TMP). Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO, Christina Cassotis, stated the following on the approval:
“This ballot approval is the result of many months of collaborative discussions with our airline partners, who have been supportive through every stage of design and decision-making on the TMP. This officially clears the way for construction to begin on the first airport terminal in the U.S. to open post-pandemic, designed and constructed with the highest public health standards in mind.”
With the airlines’ approval, the Allegheny County Airport Authority can now receive bids and award contracts for construction work.
For the last year, construction on the modernization program was halted for a variety of reasons. As the pandemic impacted aviation, the airport had to monitor the immediate consequences of the drastic drop in demand. However, one silver lining is that the airport pausing the project allowed for a reexamination of the design and operational plans with new insight from the focus of public health and safety that has come to the forefront due to the pandemic.
The modernization program’s continuation comes as airport improvements have continued through the pandemic, albeit at different speeds. Airport transformations are ongoing at most major airports, including Los Angeles, where Delta has accelerated its renovations, and American recently laid its final beam in a new terminal structure.
PIT’s modernization program
The TMP’s budget has grown to $1.39 billion. This compares to the $1.1 billion budget when the project was first announced in 2017. The TMP is an effort to build a new 700,000 square-foot terminal. In this terminal, the airport will consolidate ticketing, security checkpoints, and baggage claims.
The TMP also includes building a new multi-modal complex that includes a new 3,300-space parking garage, rental car facilities, and entrance roadways designed to improve the passenger experience.
Why PIT needs an upgrade
Like most other airports in the US, Pittsburgh International Airport is the major air gateway to its namesake city. Having an upgraded and modernized airport is necessary to provide a good first impression to business and leisure travelers coming to visit the city.
In addition, PIT has some outdated infrastructure. The airport’s current terminal complex opened in 1992. Nearly 30 years since then, it is time for an upgrade. The airport wants to drive increased efficiencies and lower maintenance costs as a result of upgrades to the airport terminal space.
Pittsburgh is a major US city, and plenty of airlines offer plenty of service to destinations near and far. In the best of times, airlines operate multiple daily flights to major hubs and business centers like Chicago, Seattle, New York, and Washington D.C. The city also gets plenty of seasonal and year-round leisure service to cities like Miami, Orlando, Nashville, and more.
One of the most prestigious services Pittsburgh sees is nonstop service on British Airways from Pittsburgh to London-Heathrow. While BA has not yet resumed flights on this route, PIT is hopeful that the carrier will be back once the UK opens up for travel and the carrier sees demand return for the route.
Ultimately, to keep and grow existing services and attract new services, PIT needs to become modernized. Even if the airport does not get the desired increase in services right away, it will definitely have many happier travelers. Ultimately, it will be another four years until the first passengers get to travel through the new PIT terminal.
Are you glad that PIT is getting an upgrade? Let us know in the comments!