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Flight count to be restored

US Airways plans to restore the 92 Pittsburgh flights it suspended in early September — good news for air travelers and Pittsburgh International Airport’s financial straits.

The airline should return to a full complement of 397 daily flights at Pittsburgh International by Oct. 4, airline spokesman Dave Castelveter said Thursday.

“Our intention was only to take them out in the month of September,” he said. “We’ll be getting back to a normal schedule in Pittsburgh in October,” he said.

US Airways said in mid-July it would suspend evening flights on most Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays in September. It is one of the slowest air travel months of the year, said Castelveter, because summer vacation travel is over and students are back in school.

“I just hope as US Airways continues to restructure, they continue to generate traffic so we can continue with these flights in Pittsburgh,” said JoAnn Jenny, spokeswoman for the Allegheny County Airport Authority.

Coincidentally, Standard & Poor’s analyst Joseph Pezzimenti said the ratings agency plans to visit airport officials in October to discuss its financial status. The agency in late July assigned a BBB+ debt rating with negative implications on roughly $454 million worth of the airport’s bonds.

In issuing the negative outlook, S&P cited the continued erosion of passenger traffic, US Airways’ decision to cut 92 flights during September and the “lack of progress” between the airline and government officials to negotiate new lease terms at Pittsburgh International.

“We need to communicate to the market if we are going to make a market adjustment” in the airport’s credit rating,” said Pezzimenti.

Separately, US Airways confirmed yesterday that it will continue to perform de-icing work at both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia for the coming winter season.

“As we search for the most cost-effective ways to conduct our business, we concluded that it makes sense to continue to operate the de-icing pads at these airports for this year,” said John Prestifilippo, senior vice president of maintenance operations.

An appropriate number of mechanics will be added to the payroll for the de-icing season for the two airports.

At Pittsburgh, there are two boom-operated de-icing pads with three slots each; and at Philadelphia, there is a single pad with seven slots. The facilities are owned by the respective airports, but operated by US Airways.

Tribune Review reporter Jim Ritchie contributed to this report.


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