Southwest Airlines’ decision to stop flights between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia will mean a $21 million loss for the Pittsburgh area, including the elimination of 300 jobs that generate $7.5 million in wages, the Allegheny County Airport Authority said. A report by Cincinnati-based Wilbur Smith Associates said travelers didn’t support the new low-cost service, the Pittsburgh Tribune Review
The $21 million loss reflects money lost in concessions, jet fuel, parking, freight shipments, travel agent commissions, and visitors, causing jobs in related industries to also suffer.
Southwest scrapped its cross-state flights on Sunday, and commuters between the two cities will now pay far more for the flights. When both Southwest and US Airways offered the service, fares for a same-day round trip were around $118. The least expensive tickets now between the two cities, which are located only 305 miles apart, cost $720.
“We wanted to make that route work, but it just wasn’t performing up to our satisfaction. It was more about Philadelphia than it was about Pittsburgh,” Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said. Southwest also cancelled flights into Philadelphia from several other cities.
Ken Zapinski, vice president of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, said airlines will quickly eliminate underperforming routes, but customers should support low-cost airlines to keep them open.
Airport Authority CEO and Executive Director Brad Penrod said New York routes might also face trouble soon. Average round-trip fares to New York’s airports have fallen about 20 percent since 2000 because of JetBlue Airways’ service to John F. Kennedy International Airport.
“Yet, on the two flights a day they operate to JFK, the passenger load factors are suffering and need to improve. More [Pittsburgh to New York] travelers need to book JetBlue,” Penrod said.
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