Allegheny County Airport Authority spends $13K on officials’ 5-day China trip |

Allegheny County Airport Authority spends $13K on officials’ 5-day China trip

Theresa Clift
Sidney Davis | Trib Total Media
Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis overlooks one of the security checkpoints of Pittsburgh International Airport on Friday, Jan. 30, 2015.
Guy Wathen | Trib Total Media
Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis, (left) listens as County Executive Rich Fitzgerald begins a news conference introducing her on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014, in the Allegheny County Courthouse.

Allegheny County, Pittsburgh International Airport and tourism officials are traveling in China this week in the hopes of establishing air service between the airport in Findlay and China.

Bob Kerlik, airport spokesman, said the group includes County Executive Rich Fitzgerald; Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis; Bryan Dietz, the airport’s vice president of air service development; Vince Gastgeb, the airport’s vice president of government and community affairs; VisitPittsburgh CEO Craig Davis; and Idea Foundry CEO Mike Matesic.

The Airport Authority is paying for Fitzgerald, Cassotis, Dietz and Gastgeb. It will cost $13,380 to cover airfare and hotel stays for those four, Kerlik said.

The group, which left Wednesday morning and returns Sunday, will visit Beijing and possibly Shanghai, Kerlik said.

The goal of the trip is to establish scheduled nonstop flights between Pittsburgh and China, which would likely take several years to finalize, he said.

In the shorter term, officials hope to establish chartered flights to China and pursue opportunities with tour operators.

Cassotis meets with airlines frequently. She traveled to Germany and Iceland ahead of announcements that nonstop service would begin to those countries in June, he said.

The airport CEO and a VisitPittsburgh employee traveled to South Africa to court airlines in 2015 and to China in 2016 — both to attend the World Routes Conference, Kerlik said.

Cassotis also traveled to the Persian Gulf to meet with Qatar Airways representatives in 2015.

The airport’s priority for domestic flights is adding nonstop flights to the West Coast, Kerlik said. Flights to London are also a priority for international air service.

Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-5669 or [email protected].

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