Air Transport World

X' marks the brand-new spot. (new Pittsburgh International Airport; includes related article with statistics on Pittsburgh airport)

PITTSBURGH--When a USAir flight from Seattle touches down around 5:30 a.m. on Oct. 1, it will officially "inaugurate" the new Pittsburgh International Airport.

However, even though the new airport will have had its official opening ceremonies the previous day and the USAir flight officially inaugurated it, aircraft flying into the new airport will be arriving at the same airfield, landing on the same runways and receiving instructions from the same control tower that they have been using for the past several years. Which begs the question: Is it therefore really a new airport?

Traditionally, new airports are built several miles outside the cities, they serve, replacing airports that have become surrounded by those cities. So is an airport that remains on the same site and uses the same control tower and runways still considered a new airport?

In Pittsburgh, it is. The old Greater Pittsburgh International terminal, opened in 1952, will be torn down or turned into a noncommercial aviation enterprise such as a shopping mall--although the Department of Aviation is hoping it will become a new air and space museum.

The new airport will drop the "Greater" from its name, becoming simply Pittsburgh International. Perhaps most signfficantly, the entire concept of the airport will be altered to fit the requirements of an airport moving into the 21st century.

The most striking aspect of the new airport is the terminal concept. Pittsburgh International has two terminals, a landside and an airside. Nothing particularly new in that. Both Washington Dulles and Atlanta Hartsfield have separate landside and airside terminals, although Dulles uses the term midfield rather than airside.

The difference is that Pittsburgh has one single, X-shaped airside terminal rather than Atlanta's four-going-to-five terminals and Dulles's two-going-to-six.

Design of the separate airside terminal was twofold--to increase the convenience of passengers using the facility and to reduce the operating cost to the airlines significantly, according to Tasso Katselas of Tasso Katselas Associates, Inc., the airport architect.

Base cost of the terminal complex is $750 million. Interest and other costs associated with the county bond issuance bring total amount that must be raised to $837 million. …

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