The annual upturn in passenger numbers represents the biggest year-on-year rise since 2010.
The last time the airport handled more traffic in a calendar year was in 2008 when 8.7 million passengers passed through its facilities.
The busy holiday travel months of November and December each saw significant gains in passenger traffic – 2.5% in November and 3.4% in December.
“We’re pleased to see the positive trend in passenger traffic continue at Pittsburgh International Airport as new flights are embraced by our thriving region,” says airport CEO, Christina Cassotis.
“The community is taking note of recent airport improvements and airlines and airport stakeholders on a national level also are responding. We know there’s more work to do but we feel we have turned a corner.”
The good news follows Standard & Poor's decision to raise Allegheny County Airport Authority’s bond rating in December.
Indeed, it has upgraded the long-term rating and underlying rating on outstanding bonds issued for Pittsburgh International Airport from an ‘A-’ to an ‘A’.
The airport authority also received a ratings bump in August by Fitch from ‘A-’ to ‘A.’
“The upgrade reflects our opinion of PIT’s improving traffic levels that have driven improvements in its overall financial situation and have proven to be sustainable,” the S&P report stated. “The outlook is stable.”
Good carrier diversity with the top three airlines in terms of passenger share being American, Southwest and Delta; Pittsburgh International’s strong origin and destination nature, with 96% of total enplanements from the region; and decreasing debt service were cited as factors in the ratings improvement.
Also contributing to the stable outlook is the addition of new low-cost carriers Allegiant and Frontier and regional carriers Southern Airways Express and OneJet.
Allegiant added new flights to Austin, Texas and San Juan, Puerto Rico in December. OneJet will add Albany, NY and Richmond, VA and Southwest will add New Orleans in March.
“Looking ahead, it is predicted that the airport authority’s origin and destination passenger levels will continue to deliver steady financial performance that should not change the airport’s rating in the near future,” the report states.