Signs of hope?
October 2020 - PIT Passenger Volume: 306,491, down from 872,035 in October 2019
On Oct. 18, the Transportation Security Administration screens more than 1 million passengers at airports nationwide in one day for the first time since March 17. Additionally, the TSA sees its busiest travel week since the start of the pandemic, screening 6.1 million passengers at U.S. airports from Oct. 12-18.
Earlier in the month, Pittsburgh International records its single highest travel day since mid-March, with more than 7,000 travelers. PIT logs its busiest travel week since March during the Oct. 12-18 period, as the TSA screens 36,576 total passengers.
Does the gradual rise in travelers come as a surprise for industry experts? Yes and no, says Seattle-based aviation consultant Carrie Kelly.
“For airlines, predicting what fall travel was going to be like was like looking into a crystal ball and it still kind of is,” she says.
And the uptick is short-lived, as a surge in virus cases turns deadly, leading to more restrictions and shutdowns around the country. The normally busy holiday travel season is tepid at best.
Meanwhile, the airport announces its latest transformative venture, called xBridge. The 10,000-square-foot innovation center is being custom-built to nurture the evolution of the industry and inspire creative solutions to aviation’s many challenges.
The xBridge “will be a proving ground for new technology that will benefit the airport, our airline partners and the passengers we collectively serve,” said Katherine Karolick, Senior Vice President of Information Technology.
The xBridge will contain maker space, an open design studio, and mockups of the various parts of an airport, such as concessions and the arrivals area.
Among the Safe Travels introductions in the spring and summer: more than 2,000 social distancing decals, 130 plexiglass panels, 19,000 masks and four UV-equipped floor scrubbers. The airport reconfigures the seating at some gates and makes health and safety public address announcements every 15 minutes.
In December, PIT introduces a high-tech handwashing station, the first of its kind in a U.S. airport. The station is located at the airport’s Landside train platform, just past the TSA security checkpoint, which was identified as another high-touch area.