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Pittsburgh's airport to get smaller, smarter


Pittsburgh International Airport, a pioneer of an earlier age of airport design, is about to get a billion-dollar make-over to bring it into a new era.

The project will build a spacious new landside terminal, with lots of amenities and space for security, attached to the current airside terminal. In the  process, the airport will shrink from 75 gates to 51. Only 39 gates are in use at present.

When Pittsburgh International opened in 1992, it pioneered a separate landside terminal connected to airside by a 'people mover' and creating a true shopping mall in terminal space with downtown stores and downtown pricing. USAir, which had one of its main hubs there, strongly influenced the plan. In the beginning, it was one of the country's busiest airports, but when USAir ran into difficulties and eventually 'de-hubbed' Pittsburgh, the bubble burst.

And, the advent of post-9/11 security cut the Airmall off from customers except passengers; the airport is just now testing allowing non-passengers back through security.

But with recent revivals in air traffic at Pittsburgh, including a promising few international routes and considerable discount traffic, the city is putting new money into the airport. As seen above, the  new landside terminal will fit between two arms of the x-shaped airside; the existing landside terminal will be removed, as will the people mover, which was only necessary to connect the two terminals. Construction is planned to be complete by 2023. 

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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