Sunday, December 27, 2009

USAirways to Europe, 2000

The Midwestern Metropolis has, as part of its rusting decline, suffered from retreat by both domestic and foreign carriers. Continental has tried to connect Cleveland to London and Paris without lasting success, and hasn't seen a foreign flight since JAT left twenty years ago. Even mighty Chicago O'Hare has in recent years seen the final departure of Pakistan, Kuwait, El Al, and Singapore, among others. Detroit has lost British Airways, and its fate and that of Cincinnati's many European departures rest in the hands of newly unified Delta, which will likely soon determine that it has too many upper-central hubs.
But these airports still have their feeder networks, and their main-line jets to both coasts. None has been so decimated as Pittsburgh, a massive airport which is now half-empty, its lengthly concourses truncated. This advert, from a USAirways sub-timetable for Boston Logan shows, just nine short years ago, Pittsburgh had daily widebody A330 and B767 departures to Frankfurt and Paris, and British Airways B747 service to London Gatwick. Today, Delta Air Lines is trying a narrowbody 757 to Paris, a major rebound that will hopefully last. USAirways itself serves more European cities than ever, nearly 20 from Philadelphia, and is banking, like the rest of America's legacy carriers, on its international network to make profits. It is in the works to serve Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Tokyo and perhaps Shanghai in the next few years. While it is true that international passengers provide wider margins, it remains to be seen just how many passengers show up for all these new flights.

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