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Pittsburgh International Airport ranked world's third best

Wednesday, November 10, 1999

By Mark Belko, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Pittsburgh International Airport is flying high with the readers of one upscale travel magazine.

  Pittsburgh International ranked 1st in U.S. and 3rd world-wide by Conde Nast Traveler. (Bill Wade, Post-Gazette)

The airport ranked the third best in the world and first in the United States in a survey of subscribers conducted by Conde Nast Traveler, which bills itself as the world's leading travel magazine.

Only two airports -- Singapore's Changi and Amsterdam's Schiphol -- finished ahead of Pittsburgh in the survey, which drew 26,687 responses. Only two other U.S. airports finished in the top 10, Orlando, which was fifth, and Tampa, which finished seventh.

Airports were rated in five categories -- location/access; ease of connections; customs/baggage claim; food/shops/amenities; and comfort/ambiance.

Jon Paul Buchmeyer, the magazine's director of public relations, said Pittsburgh soared close to the top in part because it received the highest score in the world in the category of food/shops/amenities.

"That, of course, is what you're famous for," he said, adding he has traveled through Pittsburgh to check out the shops.

The airport is the home of the popular Airmall, the 105 shops and restaurants that, under contract with Allegheny County, must offer prices competitive with those of Pittsburgh area stores and eateries.

"That's fabulous," Mark Knight, president of BAA Pittsburgh, which manages the Airmall for the county, said of the ranking. "[The airport] is a wonderful facility to travel through as a passenger. It's great that it's being recognized as such."

County Aviation Director Kent George said the rating was more than just a source of civic pride to Pittsburghers who grumble a lot about airfares but who love to brag about their airport.

He said it can help to market the airport and the region to airlines and businesses.


"This is another way the airport helps the community. When business and industry look at locating in a community, the airport is the number two thing they look at," he said. "When you have a world-class airport that's recognized as a world-class airport, it might make the difference in deciding to locate in Pittsburgh rather than in a Cleveland or a Cincinnati."

He also said the survey could be used as a tool to sell the airport to airlines because of the convenience and amenities it offers to passengers.

However, George said there is still room for improvement. He said fees to airlines, now about $6.40 per enplaned passenger, must be reduced.

The job of reducing costs will fall to the new Allegheny County Airport Authority, which won approval from the Federal Aviation Administration last week. After being run by county government for more than 40 years, the airport soon will be managed by the authority headed by George and a seven-member board.

Conde Nast Traveler has a circulation of 766,000. It sent out more than 300,000 questionnaires to randomly-selected subscribers for its annual survey. However, this is the first year it has asked readers to identify the world's top airports.

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