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RE:US Airways - What Was The Point Of PIT?  
User currently offlineKBUF737 From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 779 posts, RR: 3
Posted (10 years 8 months 2 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 5421 times:

Now I am not sure what USAirways structure was back in the early 1990's when PIT was opened, but having two hubs, close together, in the same state none the less really just doesn't make sense to me. What was the point of keeping both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh open as hubs for US? I'm just not seeing it and it seems to me that the common response on a.net is that Pittsburgh is a pretty useless place. Any thoughts?


The tower? Rapunzel!!!!!!
22 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinePgh234 From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 795 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (10 years 8 months 2 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 5390 times:

Back then, with all of the booming traffic in the northeast, PIT was needed. There was no way PHL could handle all of PIT's traffic. It has been a US/AL hub since the beginning of time and certainly had proved itself necessary. However, now with the industry as it is today, if US has to drop a hub, PIT sadly would be the one because it is just overkill for US at this time.

pgh234


User currently offlineKBUF737 From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 779 posts, RR: 3
Reply 2, posted (10 years 8 months 2 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 5380 times:

Thanks PGH. Now a second question. If PHL couldnt handle PIT's traffic could PIT possibly handle the traffic at PHL? Pit seems currently like it has the capacity to do such? Maybe PHL should have been/be closed. Talk about a delay proned area. I dont think it would happen, but it could have been a smart move.


The tower? Rapunzel!!!!!!
User currently offlineRockyRacoon From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 974 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (10 years 8 months 2 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 5354 times:

PIT has better facilities, but lacks the O/D traffic that PHL has. I really don't know the reasoning either, but I think around the time PIT's new aiport opened they might have been US's number one or number 2 hub airport to CLT. I remember when I was a little kid BA was sending a daily 747. It sure seemed that both of USAir concourses at PIT were full with planes ( around 50 gates plus seperate commuter concourse). I was young but the memory seems clear. Well those days are long gone, hopefully some carrier(s) will lift PIT back up to the status it deserves.

peace

[Edited 2004-01-12 06:52:06]

User currently offlineAirT85 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (10 years 8 months 2 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 5353 times:

Philadelphia is probably the best thing USAirways has going for it and had going for it up until this point. The city is one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country and is home to more than 5 million people in the catchment area. Pittsburgh is nowhere near as big, nor is Charlotte. US did the right thing by building up Philadelphia-however they didn't look far enough into the future to make the rest of their network as strong.

User currently offlineAnsettAW From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 205 posts, RR: 4
Reply 5, posted (10 years 8 months 2 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 5331 times:

PIT was meant to be the pride of US -- they wanted to make it one of the nation's busiest and most convenient airports. Unfortunately, it hasn't turned out that way...


Snap, Krackle, and Pop are thinly veiled emblems for the Trilateral Commission.
User currently offlineIndustrialPate From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (10 years 8 months 2 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 5318 times:

What do you mean 'what was the point of PIT?' US Airways was formerly known as Allegheny Airlines...

User currently offlineMasseyBrown From United States of America, joined Dec 2002, 5438 posts, RR: 7
Reply 7, posted (10 years 8 months 2 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 5237 times:

Allegheny built PIT into a hub in the 60's and 70's, taking routes one by one from a more or less indifferent TWA, sort of the way SW ate up US in BWI. After deregulation they added whatever spokes were missing and had a solid hub operation. At the time PIT was a relatively MUCH more important city than it is today; since the mid-70's PIT has been in a slow but steady decline. Nevertheless, they had a good thing going in PIT for 20-30 years.


I love long German words like 'Freundschaftsbezeigungen'.
User currently offlineZrs70 From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 3171 posts, RR: 9
Reply 8, posted (10 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 5177 times:

Geographically, PIT is a great location for a connecting hub. It's really not all that out of the way from most of the northeast to the south and west.

But, as stated many times, O and D is not there to support it.



14 year airliners.net vet! 2000-2013
User currently offlineElwood64151 From United States of America, joined Feb 2002, 2477 posts, RR: 6
Reply 9, posted (10 years 8 months 2 weeks ago) and read 5129 times:

AirT85:

While I agree that PHL has a huge metropolitan base (actually, the 2002 Statistical Abstract lists it at 6,188,000 or so), it grew only 5% 1990 to 2000... By contrast, LAS grew from 853,000 to over 1,563,000, a rate of 83% over the same ten year period. Even MCI grew from 1,583,000 to 1,776,000, a rate of 12.2% for the same ten years.

(Just so everyone has an idea, the US population grew 13.1% 1990-2000).

I'm not disagreeing with you in principle, just this one point.



As for USAir having a hub at PIT,

I understand the legacy of Allegheny and all that. What I do not understand is their contined usage of PIT even when traffic was being eaten up by carriers like WN, B6, HP, etc... By 2000, the PIT hub just didn't make sense any longer. I'm sure that if US and UA had merged, PIT would have been the hub to disappear (think about it: IAD, PHL, and PIT?).

I have to agree with the original poster. Keeping PIT open was not a smart move, especially when just about every other carrier had seen the wisdom of opening or keeping open a midwest/western hub, something US never had.

Just my two cents.



Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it in summer school.
User currently offlineAnsettAW From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 205 posts, RR: 4
Reply 10, posted (10 years 8 months 1 week 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 5047 times:

I have to agree with the original poster. Keeping PIT open was not a smart move, especially when just about every other carrier had seen the wisdom of opening or keeping open a midwest/western hub, something US never had.

There wasn't a question of keeping it open. The concept behind the new PIT airport was "build it and they will come." It was custom-made with high hopes for US. At what point, after all that $$$ is invested, do you say, "Hmm, you know what? That really wasn't smart after all! We should close the PIT hub." Of couse they've decided to ride it out till the end.



Snap, Krackle, and Pop are thinly veiled emblems for the Trilateral Commission.
User currently offlineElwood64151 From United States of America, joined Feb 2002, 2477 posts, RR: 6
Reply 11, posted (10 years 8 months 1 week 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 5016 times:

AnsettAW:

There's also the idea of cutting your losses. US didn't do that. It's a gamble either way: You've invested so much money, and then you decide it's just not working. Or you've invested the money, it's not working, but you'll stick it out to see if it does.

While there is value in both viewpoints, PIT being less than 300 miles from PHL really puts a damper on its relevance.

If it were me, I'd have dropped PIT around 1997-1998 in favor of something else, even and expanded IND or whatever.

But then, I'm thinking mostly in hind-sight.



Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it in summer school.
User currently offlineAnsettAW From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 205 posts, RR: 4
Reply 12, posted (10 years 8 months 1 week 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 4962 times:

Elwood64151:
Thanks for your response. I've got no real personal stake in this topic, just an interesting discussion, so I appreciate your viewpoints. I understand what you're saying, but it's not easy to pull out of an airport that was designed exclusively for them "in favor of something else" -- just walking away from it all and leaving the county/city/state/whatever in debt after only a few years. US would be hated something fierce. I don't think PHL was ever intended to be the epi-center of US operations but in the early 90's they had huge expectations for PIT. AnsettAW



Snap, Krackle, and Pop are thinly veiled emblems for the Trilateral Commission.
User currently offlineLuv2fly From United States of America, joined May 2003, 12110 posts, RR: 48
Reply 13, posted (10 years 8 months 1 week 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 4911 times:
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Keep in mind that the area that the PIT airport is located is fondly called the "rust belt" Due to all the steel industry that WAS there at one time. The industry that was there at one time is no longer operating like it once was, nor will it most likely return to the former levels.


You can cut the irony with a knife
User currently offlineUS653 From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 161 posts, RR: 1
Reply 14, posted (10 years 8 months 1 week 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 4883 times:

"If PHL couldnt handle PIT's traffic could PIT possibly handle the traffic at PHL? Pit seems currently like it has the capacity to do such? Maybe PHL should have been/be closed. Talk about a delay proned area."


One thing that may help is that I believe that because of some changes made to the ATC systems, that simultaneous landings can sometimes be done. I may be mistaken, but I've seen planes lined up for landings on 27L and 27R several times in the last few weeks. If this is the case, I can imagine that this can help the flow of traffic into PHL. I have always wondered why US kept ahold of PIT considering how much PHL is built up. I think that the biggest thing that PIT has going for it is all of the Express traffic that goes in there. They have been the #2 hub for US in terms of flights, but the majority of these are Express flights. I may be biased, but PHL should really be US's primary hub.



US653...PHL-AUA...The best place in the Caribbean!!!
User currently offlineAs739x From United States of America, joined Apr 2003, 6143 posts, RR: 23
Reply 15, posted (10 years 8 months 1 week 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 4872 times:

To get me from San Francisco to Akron/Canton on Tuesday...that why PIT is there!
ASSFO



"Some pilots avoid storm cells and some play connect the dots!"
User currently offlineTOLtommy From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 3292 posts, RR: 4
Reply 16, posted (10 years 8 months 1 week 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 4823 times:

SFO-CAK? Let me guess.... Flights by US, price by FL, huh? Shoulda flown FL, you coulda upgraded to a big seat for $50 each way on the long flights.

User currently offlineEsajh From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 39 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (10 years 8 months 1 week 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 4765 times:

Elwood 64151: You say that LAS grew so fast and in fact that is true. The city not only grew fast but was the fastest growing city in the USA according to the this source. http://www.insidervlv.com/info.html

LAS
“As of the 1990 census, the population of Clark County is 982,985. The county is 7,881 square miles, 20,490.6 square kilometers, comparable to the area of Massachusetts.”
http://www.insidervlv.com/info.html
http://las.vegas.hotelguide.net/las_vegas_travel_information.html

PHL
“The Greater Philadelphia / South Jersey metropolitan area is the fourth largest metropolitan area in the United States, ranking behind New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The Greater Philadelphia - South Jersey metropolitan area totals 3,855 square miles in area.”
http://philadelphia.about.com/cs/fast_facts/a/population.htm

But there are some other facts you are not looking at when comparing LAS to PHL. LAS is a much larger area than PHL. As a matter of fact the entire Philadelphia area (including the outlining 4 counties) and South New Jersey combined are less than HALF the size of Clark County Nevada (48.9%.) If you expanded the PHL area into the physical size of Clark County you would definitely include Baltimore (the 5th most populated metro area) and
http://www.usatourist.com/english/places/maryland/baltimore.html
possibly the outskirts of the New York Metro Area. “Baltimore City is only 75 miles from Philadelphia City and the edges of the metro areas nearly touch [less than 15 miles apart because Delaware is not considered part of the PHL or BAL metro area.]” As a result you really can not compare the two areas. The O&D traffic is massive at PHL.

Now as for PIT? There are a number of things that came up in this topic. The first was the relationship of PIT to PHL, secondly the need (or lack their of) for PIT or PHL and finally why keep PIT so long?

The first is fairly easy. Most of it was explained above with the shear size of PHL and the O&D traffic. PHL is a destination in itself and for an airline that is wonderful. You don’t need to worry as much on your spoke outbound flights to fill your hub inbound flights.

The need or lack of need for PHL is easy. It is a moneymaker for US Airways and has been since day one. It continues to grow and has a long way to go (with respect to profit potential.) As for PIT it is different. You have to remember the demographics of the Metro area of PIT have greatly changed over the years. And while one can say, “You must change too” that is not so easy. US Airways had it core infrastructure in PIT. Most of its simulators were located in PIT up to the late 1990s. While CLT had some, they did not have enough and could not hold all that was needed (in the 90s.)

PIT was also a large ground school operation for US for not only pilots but also Flight Attendants. A huge reservations center (still there) and most importantly its Flight Operations Headquarters. It is the home of their dispatchers, meteorologists, schedulers and much more. You just don’t pick up this type of massive operation over night. Not to mention employee problems but simply logistical problems are horrendous. Where do you put it? Sure some can go to CLT but that is only a small percentage (CLT was pretty full already in the 90s.) You don’t just box up a simulator and move it. It takes months to rectify once you do that (they did it to SAN and the MD-80.) Where do you train your pilots in the mean time and how much does it cost? No there are a lot of problems with shutting down PIT and while they have drastically reduced both service and operations it still has a lot of commitments to PIT.

Another factor with PIT is human. In June of 2003 “An estimated 17,000 of US Airways' 32,000 employees work in Pennsylvania.” However, in June 1999, that figure was over 22,000 of their total work force of over 46,000. Next to University of PA, US Airways WAS the largest private employer in the State (not true today with that honor going to Wal Mart that has a lot of US Airways employees working there now.)
http://www.usatoday.com/travel/news/2003/06/13-pit-usair.htm

The peripheral effect on the communities is huge and while the local citizens would have to pick up the bill for things like the airport etc, many high paid jobs would disappear making the tax base smaller yet. Not that any management has ever cared about such things, local politicians must!



User currently offlineScottb From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 6764 posts, RR: 31
Reply 18, posted (10 years 8 months 1 week 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 4721 times:

As others have said, PIT was a hub for Allegheny for a very, very long time. PHL is the newest hub for US. Why did Allegheny/USAir have a hub at PIT? Well, for one, Allegheny (as All-American Aviation) started there. It's also important to remember that Pittsburgh as a city was far more important (relatively speaking) in 1970 or 1980 than it is today; the metro area has lost hundreds of thousands of people in the last 30 years while other areas (mostly in the South and West) have seen dramatic growth. Many of the cities in the region served by the PIT hub have also shrunk or seen little growth in the past 30 years.

The decision to rebuild the terminal complex at PIT pre-dates the airline's decision to establish a hub at PHL. When PIT's new terminal was built, the old terminal was well beyond capacity and USAir's hub at PIT was still thriving. In order for the new terminal to happen, USAir had to sign long-term leases for the terminal (so there would be money flowing in long-term to repay the bonds issued to finance construction). USAir (later US Airways) couldn't simply walk away from those leases without facing a lawsuit (well, until bankruptcy allowed them to reject the lease contracts); they would still have been on the hook for the leases. AA was in the same position at RDU; when Midway II was hubbed there, they sublet their Terminal C facilities from AA.

And PIT still held some attractiveness for US Airways until the bottom dropped out of the industry after September 11. PIT had plenty of gates and an efficient airfield configuration, even in poor weather, for a large connecting hub. PHL would be very hard-pressed to handle the traffic of both airports, even today, especially with its frequent weather/traffic delays. PIT is geographically well-placed to handle traffic to and from the Northeast. And, importantly, low-fare carriers have met with very limited success at PIT.

With the size of hub that US Airways operated at PIT in the past, the cost per passenger was pretty manageable. The problem is, as US has drastically cut its capacity there, the airport's costs (primarily bond service) have only declined slightly; with fewer passengers going through the airport, the airport's fixed costs mean higher per-passenger charges.


User currently offlineAs739x From United States of America, joined Apr 2003, 6143 posts, RR: 23
Reply 19, posted (10 years 8 months 1 week 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 4698 times:

TOLtommy, thank you! I actually am paying $00.00 for the flight. I fly free with US, but thank you.
ASSFO



"Some pilots avoid storm cells and some play connect the dots!"
User currently offlineAnsettAW From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 205 posts, RR: 4
Reply 20, posted (10 years 8 months 1 week 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 4682 times:

Excellent summary, Scottb. You were able to articulate what some of us had a hard time doing...


Snap, Krackle, and Pop are thinly veiled emblems for the Trilateral Commission.
User currently offlineRthrbeflying86 From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 243 posts, RR: 1
Reply 21, posted (10 years 8 months 1 week 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 4556 times:

One thing that may help is that I believe that because of some changes made to the ATC systems, that simultaneous landings can sometimes be done. I may be mistaken, but I've seen planes lined up for landings on 27L and 27R several times in the last few weeks.

I have seen this as well, but I don't really think it helps all that much. Firstly, it can only be done during clear conditions (much like SFO), but unlike SFO, it involves devoting all available strips of concrete longer than 6,000ft to landing traffic. Because of spacing, flights cannot take off when a plane is on less than a 5- or so mile final, meaning the takeoff line backs up. Also, the taxi from the end of 27L to the terminals is enough to negate any made up time.

Dan



I'd rather be flying.
User currently offlineUSAir734 From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 57 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (10 years 8 months 1 week 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 4543 times:

PIT was a sign of better times at US. Unfortunately, hindsight is 20/20 and I bet that US is wishing they had made more lucrative moves when it came to the PHL/ PIT situation. However, remember, US has always been highly dense on the east coast. Many people consider US to be large regional carrier and thats exactly what Allegheny was. It's too bad they never really branced off and made their system more nationwide. In my opinion thats whats killing US; the fact that they won't update their business model.

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