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Delta ending Pittsburgh-to-Paris flights this summer

Theresa Clift
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Pittsburgh International Airport soon will lose its nonstop flight to Paris after a decade.

The last direct flight between Pittsburgh and Paris will be Sept. 3, said Bob Kerlik, airport spokesman.

The flight has long been a point of pride for the airport, which struggled to attract direct flights to Europe until recently.

Delta Air Lines announced Wednesday it is ending the service to Pittsburgh while expanding its Paris flights from its hubs in Los Angeles and New York.

“Due to increased trans-Atlantic capacity in the Pittsburgh market and other commercial considerations, Delta has made the tough business decision to discontinue its seasonal Pittsburgh-Paris service after the summer 2018 season,” said Morgan Durrant, a Delta spokeswoman.

Customers holding a reservation for next summer will be accommodated on other Delta flights or they may request a refund, Durrant said.

Delta announced the change “as part of broad shifts across its network,” an airport blog post said.

The airline did not announce cutting Paris service to any city other than Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Durrant said. It will continue to provide Paris service to Cincinnati. That airport has a flight to Keflavik, Iceland, but no other European cities, according to its website.

Delta began offering the year-round Paris flight in 2009. Looking to revitalize the airport, Allegheny Conference on Community Development and the state Department of Community and Economic Development agreed to each pay Delta up to $9 million over two years if the flight did not hit revenue projections.

In the first year, the flight lost more than $5 million, so the state and conference each paid $2.5 million. In the second year, the airline hit its goals and the state and conference paid nothing .

Two years later, the airline reduced the flight to summers only, which has been the case ever since.

Since 2011, the state has not tracked the flight’s revenue, a DCED spokesman told the Trib in June, but airport and airline officials say the flight has been successful.

The carrier used a larger plane to fly the route this year, citing increased demand.

Last year, 30,704 people took the flights between Pittsburgh and Paris, down from 32,662 in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

The highest number of passengers per flight was in 2011, but it was available during 10 months that year compared to five months in 2016 and 2017.

Last year, the flight had the highest average number of passengers per flight — about 131 — than in any year since 2014, the data showed. The flights carried an average of about 115 passengers per flight in 2016.

“It was a good 10-year run with Delta, and, for many years, they were our only nonstop option to Europe,” Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis said in an airport blog post Wednesday . “But the reality is the Pittsburgh market is evolving and growing, and European carriers have entered the market offering additional nonstop trans-Atlantic service.”

The airport offers year-round service to Reykjavik, Iceland, and seasonal service to Frankfurt, Germany. S ervice to London Heathrow is set to launch April 2 on British Airways.

Those three destinations contribute to a 6 percent increase in trans-Atlantic flights in 2019, the blog post said.

“That will grow an additional 16 percent in 2020 as the London flight operates for the full year,” the blog said.

Delta remains an important partner for the airport, Cassotis said in the blog.

“Whether to continue the Paris route is something they’ve been considering for several years,” Cassotis said in the blog. “That made it even more important that our passengers have additional options on British Airways, WOW and Condor, two of which are year-round.”

Last month, Delta launched a flight to Salt Lake City, a new destination for the airport.

The airline carries about 17 percent of the airport’s traffic, third most behind Southwest and American, the blog said.

Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Theresa at 412-380-5669, [email protected] or via Twitter @tclift.

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