For a city that has for years laid out the red carpet to US Airways, Pittsburgh got a punch in the face two weeks ago. The blow didn't come from US Airways' continued retreat from the western Pennsylvania airport - that's been predicted for some time. It came when US Airways began shouting to everyone who would listen that Pittsburgh isn't a viable hub - for any airline!
After announcing plans to slash 40 more daily flights from the airport, close a crew base, and eliminate hundreds of jobs, the carrier went on record to say that the market simply can't support an operation that's much larger than what its own schedule will look like early next year. Accurate or no, the move was akin to rubbing salt into a very sore wound, and could make it even more difficult for Pittsburgh to convince other major airlines to grow operations there.
Sure, low-cost carriers AirTran, JetBlue and Southwest have been gradually ramping up service at Pittsburgh. Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said today the carrier will probably add a couple of flights from Pittsburgh next year. But such gains, at most, are slight.
The fact is that the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers - and lets not forget Iron City beer - has been without any direct transatlantic service since US Airways eliminated flights to London Gatwick and Frankfurt in November 2004. In light of US Airways' continued draw down of domestic service, and its latest remarks about the airport's future potential, it doesn't seem likely that Pittsburgh will regain hub status anytime soon.
That's not to say that Pittsburgh won't make a valiant effort. The city that loves Black and Gold doesn't like to see red.