Friday, July 08, 2011

sept douzièmes complète

The obligatory comment of the day goes with the extension of Delta's direct Pittsburgh to Paris flight.

Yay!  We won.

or 7/12ths won. Like the Pirates, everything is in this nether world these days where anything that can be considered not losing feels great. Still, it's better than if they canceled the flight outright.  The question is whether this is going to be a permanent seasonal flight, or if this is more a transition year. We will be back to that question next year I suppose.

So the flight is being extended, except for the winter season.  Pittsburghers it seems don't make it very far from home when the snow and ice set in. So we keep the extended summer season (7 months of the year) of direct flights to Paris.  I'd be curious what percentage of the seats are filled with folks originating in Pittsburgh, but save that thought for another day.

The newspapers have already asked my question, which is whether or not Delta will be paid for their 2nd year of contract service.  They received the maximum subsidy for their first year, which was obvious to me at the time it would be the case. but we have not learned what is, or isn't owed for the 2nd year. Seems like it is taking longer to get that answer this year.

Now they will continue for the summer season without subsidy.  A good thing, but not that remarkable.  Summer season has a lot more demand than the rest of the year and I suspect their was always enough demand for a summer service out of Pittsburgh.  USAir actually started their Frankfurt service as seasonal and remember we once also had Gatwick service during summer as well.  TWO international flights simultaneously!!  Must have been boom times for the Burgh?!

Does it matter?  Less than you think.  There is a clear image and pride with the 'international' moniker at the airport meaning something more than flights to Montreal (are there still direct flights to Montreal?).  And don't get me wrong, it can be cool arriving in the US and landing in Pittsburgh and being home all at the same time.  I think I will earn my own gold star on the flight later in the month.  Still, I have to admit it is usually for civic pride that I pick the flight over many other choices. That or it has usually been the cheapest choice as well.  The advantage of landing in Pittsburgh is clear, but that is just because the hassle of landing at a port of entry with a single international flight is just so much easier than landing in a place where you could easily find yourself in queue with passengers from a half dozen full 747's.  Still, nobody has ever measured meaningful rates of corporate relocations based on changes in regional air service.  If I'm wrong on that, I would love to read the cite.

So economically it just is not clear there is any advantage no matter what frequent travellers tell you.  As I pointed out long ago, there just isn't any accepted economic research finding increased air service a cause of region-wide economic growth; certainly not for a large metro region such as Pittsburgh, and their are tomes of research trying to find the causes of growth.  Causality may go the other way I am sure, but that means something else altogether. That and of course there are sub-regional impacts as airports are big enterprises.  This is the whole 'aerotropolis' meme... but that as a regional impact dilutes out for anything beyond small regions. 

The airport isn't entirely a dismal story for other reasons as well.  The other under-reported news out in Findlay is that Airport Traffic is up for the14th straight month.  Good for the airport's finances all around I am sure.  Is it up because of the Paris flight?  Probably not, unless we are now importing natural gas workers from Marseilles.

Speaking of Delta and regional growth.  Cincinnati is feeling its own airport pain.  It was once a Delta hub, but as airline mergers continue, they have found their terminal becoming more ghost-like as time goes by.  No schadenfreude here, we know that pain. 

Which reminds me of a question still bouncing around...  who will USAirways merge with next?  and what will that mean for the number of flights still at the airport?


Anonymous DBR96A said...

Raleigh, Nashville and Austin seem to be doing just fine without being airline hubs.

Friday, July 08, 2011 3:00:00 AM  
Blogger Joshua said...

Chris, I am surprised that you missed this opportunity to yet again bring up my decade old Statue of Liberty prank...Josh Wander, Candidate for Pittsburgh City Council, 5th District

Friday, July 08, 2011 8:47:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...


You were at the Greenfield church thing last night, no? Why does Greenfield appear to have a contingent of people whose main goal in life is to see that nothing is ever built or remodeled? And why are people worried about adding a small bit of traffic to what is basically the on-ramp to the outbound Parkway East?

Friday, July 08, 2011 10:23:00 AM  
Anonymous DBR96A said...

That outbound Parkway East on-ramp is the most ridiculous piece of civil engineering I've ever seen.They need to either move that on-ramp, or just get rid of it altogether and tell people to suck it up and get on at Bates Street or Braddock Avenue.

Friday, July 08, 2011 11:26:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

The Bates Street one isn't that much less absurd and I don't think Braddock Avenue needs the traffic. Anyway, I use that ramp a fair bit and it's annoying but it never seems unsafe. The tunnel keeps traffic slow anyway.

Friday, July 08, 2011 12:13:00 PM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

All I ask from the airport is that it be adequate for our region's needs. Which it seems to be doing.

Friday, July 08, 2011 12:40:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

The airport is adequate for our region's current needs and if our region ever needed room for an indoor Segway jousting field.

Friday, July 08, 2011 12:44:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

Which, by the way, is a franchise you can license from me for very, very cheap.

Friday, July 08, 2011 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger fester said...

@MH --- that is a brilliant idea --- the last time I was at the airport, I was thinking urban combat laser tag arena for the D-Concourse, but I think Segway Jousting is better.

Friday, July 08, 2011 1:31:00 PM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

Admittedly the airport is overbuilt for its current needs, but if I am not mistaken, at least it should be paying off some its construction debt in another six or seven years or so.

Friday, July 08, 2011 1:53:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

It hasn't been paying off its construction debt?

Friday, July 08, 2011 2:11:00 PM  
Blogger Joshua said...

I was there, not as a resident of Greenfield, but trying to better understand the wants and needs of my constituents in the 5th district. MH, next time you see me around, please feel free to introduce yourself. I'm the guy with the Josh Wander for Council name tag. I'm assuming you don't walk around with an MH tag. ;-)

Friday, July 08, 2011 2:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Ken Zapinski said...

"The airport isn't entirely a dismal story..." Spoken like a true Pittsburgh native, Chris.

Friday, July 08, 2011 2:32:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

Josh, I read about the meeting in Greenfield, but I wasn't there. I was in Silky's. I also don't live in Greenfield, just near it.

I knew you were there because of Twitter. I will introduce myself if I see you.

Friday, July 08, 2011 2:38:00 PM  
Blogger rich10e said...

there was a time when that off ramp on beechwood to the parkway east was closed between 4-6pm

Friday, July 08, 2011 4:52:00 PM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

I tend to use "paying down" for reductions in principal, and "paying off" for the final elimination of a debt.

Friday, July 08, 2011 6:09:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

you know.. I did have a couple lines about the Eiffel Tower worked into that, but deleted them as gratuitous in context.

A prank eh? Might you mean it was intended as satire even? I bet you are a closet Francophile?

Friday, July 08, 2011 7:37:00 PM  
Blogger Yale Class of 1983 said...

No, you cannot get from PIT to MTL on a non-stop flight. In May, I drove to Cleveland and flew non-stop to MTL from there. Even with the auto expense, I saved hundreds of dollars against the fly-from-PIT-through-IAD option.

Saturday, July 09, 2011 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger Joshua said...


Considering the fact that both my wife's family and some of my best friends are French, not to mention that I have visited the country numerous times, I would not consider myself a Francophile...


Sunday, July 10, 2011 6:31:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

I'm not sure if that's a typo or if Josh is more deadpan than you'd expect for somebody seeking office.

Sunday, July 10, 2011 8:15:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

It's so perfect. It is an unintended triple entendre.

Sunday, July 10, 2011 9:03:00 PM  
Blogger Joshua said...

Typo, meant Francophobe...But I did get you guys to smile!;-)

Monday, July 11, 2011 10:56:00 PM  
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