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pointbreeze

Pittsburgh flying to Europe again?

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The Trib is reporting that the USAir might resume the Frankfurt flight.

... US Airways was exploring a resumption of nonstop service between Pittsburgh and Frankfurt. Several Pittsburgh-area corporations -- including Bayer Corp., the German company's U.S. subsidiary, based in Robinson -- have pushed for the return of nonstop flights to Frankfurt

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The Trib is reporting that the USAir might resume the Frankfurt flight.

Even if they were serious about it (I still think its lip service), they don't have the aircraft right now. First of all, they are short on normal widebody trans-atlantics (767's and whatever Airbuses they use). Second, the most likely aircraft that could be put on the route would be a 757 (smaller but still has the range) and they def. don't have any of those sitting around after they can abunch of their metal to reduce costs.

Maybe the Allegheny conference can take donations and buy one for USAir or Luf.

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Tool, is Luf in the same situation on aircraft shortages? Pittsburgh is actually GROWING in it's desire to fly to Europe with the 4 "world class" (top 200) law firms HQed here merging, expanding and buying up european firms, and the 8 additional "world class" (top 200) firms having offices here, add to that just as PB mentioned, Bayer USA is HQ here, as well as SKGlaxo's Consumer Goods Global HQ (British Co.), Heinz, Alcoa and US Steel have massive operations in Europe with PPG and Mellon Financial not far behind. Add into all this the growing foreign student populations at Pitt, CMU and to a lesser extent Duquense and RMU and Pittsburgh is actually a STRONGER Trans-Atlantic flight market then it was in the mid-90s when we had regular service with British Airways and USAir to multiple European cities. One big reason for those flights being instituted though were the Gulf Oil (up to the mid 1980s) and Westinghouse (up to the mid 90s) pull for middle managers to fly into Europe and sometimes on to the Middle East, both of those are gone now but a new segment has filled the void.

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There is no longer a plane shortage at US Airways. They gained an ETOPS-certified 757 from America West (757s must be ETOPS certified to fly trans-Atlantic and while the pre-merger US Airways had plenty of 757s, none were ETOPS-certified but Am. West has one ETOPS 757).

The following is based on rumor only but is likely true.

The 757 will take over the Philadelphia-Shannon and Philadelphia-Dublin routes by flying in a triangle: Philadelphia-Shannon-Dublin-Philadelphia. Currently, US Airways runs the Ireland services summer-only using their 767s with one 767 doing PHL-Shannon duty and another 767 doing PHL-Dublin duty. The 757 will be used year-round. This frees up 2 767s for use in the summer. One will be used on Phoenix-Honolulu (which the 757 used to fly) and the other will be used on Pittsburgh-Frankfurt. The 767s are typically used on Carribean routes in the winter (Philadelphia-Cancun and Charlotte-San Juan) so I assume this revived Pittsburgh-Frankfurt route will be summer only.

In any event, US Airways can really up their trans-Atlantic capacity by ETOPS certifying its 757s. As it stands, they only have 20 aircraft that can do that duty (9 767's, 10 A330's, and 1 757). Meanwhile, the other airlines are increasing international flights like gangbusters. US Airways is really missing the boat. The 757 would be perfect for use in markets like Pittsburgh that may not have enough traffic to support a trans-Atlantic widebody. I can see them reviving London and maybe even Paris service from Pittsburgh if they got more ETOPS-certified 757s.

As for Lufthansa, they do indeed have an aircraft shortage. Also, whatever new aircraft they are getting will be used to serve the booming Chinese and Indian markets. I think they've shelved any serious consideration of further expanding in North America. If anything, they will expand capacity on existing rotues rather than open new markets. IF US airways starts Frankfurt service, there's no way Lufthansa will enter Pittsburgh to compete since the market can only handle one such flight.

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Another reason Lufthansa won't put on the route with US Airways is that they are both in Star Alliance, they could just put a codeshare on it. Personaly (although I'm not planning on going to Germany in the near future :( ) I think it would be more prestigious if Lufthansa were to open the route and have US Air start flying to London (Like I said, I still think that is more lip service than reality, but who knows).

Something else to consider is that when British Airways was flying the route, they Pittsburgh was actualy the second stop after a city like New York or D.C. BA can't pick up more passangers there and deliver them to Pittsburgh but they can bring Pittsburgh destined passangers the rest of the way.

Urban, I hadn't considered the 757 switch via AmWest since I hadn't heard that news about the Honolulu and Ireland service untill just a little bit ago. I would still rather have them put a 57 on the route to prove that it is profitable and have it year round than have a 767 half full and them have it pulled again. Although I've said a million time I think its stupid to have Philly's airport overloaded with connecting traffic and PIT barren...so if they ever reversed their position there would be more connecting traffic heading out over the pond to supliment O&D traffic at PIT.

P.S. I'll be back in Pittsburgh Sunday for the holidays and to look for a job...any one have any leads for me!

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Another reason Lufthansa won't put on the route with US Airways is that they are both in Star Alliance, they could just put a codeshare on it. Personaly (although I'm not planning on going to Germany in the near future :( ) I think it would be more prestigious if Lufthansa were to open the route and have US Air start flying to London (Like I said, I still think that is more lip service than reality, but who knows).

It would definitely be more prestigious for LH to fly this route than US. It won't happen, however. LH is a more worldly airline than US (a self-proclaimed LCC) and it'll likely use the few openings in its already overstretched fleet to serve routes in growing markets like Asia and leave Pgh to its partner US.

Something else to consider is that when British Airways was flying the route, they Pittsburgh was actualy the second stop after a city like New York or D.C. BA can't pick up more passangers there and deliver them to Pittsburgh but they can bring Pittsburgh destined passangers the rest of the way.

It was the Philly route that they latched Pgh onto. I think, for a while, they also latched it onto the DC route. Because the departure point from the US was Philly, they were able to fly Pgh passengers into London Heathrow (Heathrow is slot restricted and so only a few US departure points are able to get service to Heathrow). The flight was also by 747. Then later on, probably because few passengers wanted to have that one stop over at PHL, they separated the PIT flight from the PHL flight and made it a PIT-London non-stop using a 767. Since it departed the US from PIT, however, it had to fly into Gatwick and not Heathrow. The international connection possibilities out of Gatwick were far less and so business declined and BA eventually dropped the route. Then, after much lobbying, US Airways started a PIT-Gatwick flight but that was of moderate success and I think it was summer only. They then dropped it when they started Philly-Glasgow and used that plane for the Glasgow route.

Basically, as long as no non-stop from PIT can fly itno Heathrow, any London route would not be successful since it would primarily have to rely on O&D at the London end.

I guess BA could restart the PHL-PIT latch-on but that was only semi-successful because of the US/BA codeshare which is no longer in effect.

Urban, I hadn't considered the 757 switch via AmWest since I hadn't heard that news about the Honolulu and Ireland service untill just a little bit ago. I would still rather have them put a 57 on the route to prove that it is profitable and have it year round than have a 767 half full and them have it pulled again.

The 757 would be the perfect vehicle for intercontinental flights from a non-hub mid-sized market like Pgh. Continental flies the 757 from Cleveland to London (Gatwick). My guess is that if US came into possession of additional ETOPS 757s, they would use it on the PIT-Frankfurt route. That said, the 767 doesn't carry that many more passengers than the 757. I think the savings come in the form of fuel.

As it stands, I think using the 757 for PHL-Ireland makes the most sense since I believe the 767 has greater business passenger capacity than the 757 (and certainly greater freight capacity). The Irish flights are primarily tourist-driven and so don't require as much business & freight capacity. By contrast, the PIT-Frnakfurt flights are much more business and freight driven and so justify the 767 even if the coach class is half-full.

Although I've said a million time I think its stupid to have Philly's airport overloaded with connecting traffic and PIT barren...so if they ever reversed their position there would be more connecting traffic heading out over the pond to supliment O&D traffic at PIT.

They need PHL since many of their international flights simply can not be supported out of PIT. Alot of their passengers come from the east coast and many will hate to back track to PIT to catch a flight to places like Madrid, Rome, Glasgow, Dublin, Munich, Amsterdam, etc. I think where PIT fits in is that they want PIT to relieve the overflow when it comes to passengers from PIT on west. As far as that is concerned, the feed from PIT on west is only enough to jsutify flights to ajor business destinations like Frankfurt and London (I do see PIT-London coming back if they get enough planes) since the majority of the population within the US Airways service area lives east of PIT.

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By the way, I do think the revival of PIT-Frankfurt is real. PIT is one of the largest markets in the US without any non-stop service to Europe. Its clearly a business opportunity. Add to that the fact that Bayer is willing to subsidize the service (they had subsidized PIT-FRA from the start). Also, their partner Lufthansa has a major hub in FRA. I believe they last yanked the service before they partnered up with LH.

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They need PHL since many of their international flights simply can not be supported out of PIT. Alot of their passengers come from the east coast and many will hate to back track to PIT to catch a flight to places like Madrid, Rome, Glasgow, Dublin, Munich, Amsterdam, etc. I think where PIT fits in is that they want PIT to relieve the overflow when it comes to passengers from PIT on west. As far as that is concerned, the feed from PIT on west is only enough to jsutify flights to ajor business destinations like Frankfurt and London (I do see PIT-London coming back if they get enough planes) since the majority of the population within the US Airways service area lives east of PIT.

I think you have to draw that line (of where people live that fly USAIR) and if they like flying through PHL or not. The reason USair added flights back to those upstate New York cities is that people there basicaly said we don't want to fly through Philly anymore. It is a horribly overcrowed airport now, and its not even very nice. Also you have to consider all the market share that the usair brand has futher out west now. America West has some very loyal fliers that used to have to use British Airways to get over seas via their codeshare. Now they can do so on USair, and I think Pittsburgh is a much better gateway for it.

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I also wonder about British Airways and Aeroflot although not as strong as Luft they could also give European exposure.

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I also wonder about British Airways and Aeroflot although not as strong as Luft they could also give European exposure.

The problem with London flights is that they often only are profitable if the flight is to Heathrow airport and not to Gatwick. Heathrow has much more connecting traffic to the rest of the world (thus allowing such transfers as PIT-London-India) and tends to get more business passengers (higher yield). Gatwick works better with the tourist trade which could care less. That is why often times Frankfurt (major business destination and major connecting abilities) flights are year round while London flights are summer only.

The problem is that, under the Bermuda II agreement, only a few cities in the US are allowed to have Heathrow flights and Pittsburgh is not one of them. Also, only a few airlines are allowed to serve Heathrow from the US - they are British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, United, and American. Back in the 80's, they piggybacked the PIT flights onto the Philadelphia and DC flights so that PIT passengers could go to Heathrow (since Philadelphia and DC had Heathrow access). Then they made it a non-stop route and had to fly it from Pittsburgh to Gatwick. That was substantially less profitable so they dropped it.

Theoretically, BA could re=extend their Philadelphia flights to Pittsburgh but in the post-9/11 world this won;'t happen. Passengers have always beenr equried to go through immigrations and customs at their first port of entry (Philadelphia) and, b/c all the checks are more complicated and time consuming now, BA might not think it makes sense for their plane to sit idle while awaiting its PIT passengers to reboard. Also, with the BA/AA alliance, they'd rather funnel traffic through AA to PIT.

Aeroflot? I doubt if they'll ever come to PIT. After the opening of RUssia, they increased flights to the US substantially, only to cut back a few years later. I think Lufthansa is the most likely candidate.

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Urban great points, thanks for the insight. Airlines are always so intriguing to me.

Tooluther, nice find. I wish the one Pgh poster would emphasize (though he mentions it in passing), the fact that it is Hburg and not well-meaning politicos in Pgh locked into a 19th century political vice that is about 1/10th the size of the taxbase of annex-happy Phoenix, Houston or Jacksonville or any other MODERN city!

Anyways I wish there was some news on the Europe flights, maybe by summer when the air wars heat up again!

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The new US Airways is in the process of purchasing long range aircraft from ATA for use in intercontinental service and just announced a slew of new US to Europe flights for 2006. Sadly, they do not include the resumption of Pittsburgh to Europe service as previously hinted. Instead, they are adding further European flights out of Philly, namely non-stops to Stockholm, Lisbon, and Milan. They are also seriously considering further new flights from Philly to eastern European cities such as Warsaw and Prague.

It seems to me that the new US Airways is taking a page from Continental's model - namely expanding by introducing new services along "long thin routes" from one large hub. Continental does this from Newark where they run a large hub and send 757's (relatively small for intercontinental travel) non-stop to destinations that normally receive only limited non-stop service from the US such as Cardiff and Copenhagen. By doing so, they eliminate a dreaded transfer at one of Europe's congested hubs like Frankfurt, Paris, or London. It seems that, by purchasing 757's from ATA, US Ariways is looking to use a similar strategy based around PHL (obviously not as lucrative as the Newark/NYC market but a good alternative market as far as East Coast/Midwest hubbing is concerned).

If US Airways acquires enough 757's, however, I can see them launch a 757 service from PIT to London since Continental does that from Cleveland. The other Euro destinations, however, are probably too far to be within 757 range from PIT. That said, given the greater transfer opportunities out of Frankfurt as compared to London Gatwick (PIT doesn't have Heathrow rights), PIT might be better served luring Lufthansa to commence service (doable given the Bayer presence and how the PIT-FRA flight was a strong flight). However, this will have to wait utnil LH gets more planes and finishes its Asian expansion first.

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Good observations Urban, I also believe the Luftansa is a better fit for PIT at this point. That USAirways news is welcomed though I don't see them making the burgh a priority as much as philly is now, Bayer and our multiple international law firms could tip the balance some.

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Good observations Urban, I also believe the Luftansa is a better fit for PIT at this point. That USAirways news is welcomed though I don't see them making the burgh a priority as much as philly is now, Bayer and our multiple international law firms could tip the balance some.

Lufthansa would be better anyway. It'll bring more international cache.

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