Remember How We Thought that Delta’s Paris – Pittsburgh Flight Was Odd? Yeah…

You may (or likely may not) remember about 16 months ago we shared the story of how Delta was launching Pittsburgh to Paris flights.  At the time we wondered how Delta could possibly make Pittsburgh – Paris work when at the same time Northwest, with its huge hub at Detroit, had canceled its Detroit – Paris flights.  The answer?  They took a great deal of money from the State of Pennsylvania and a Pittsburgh-area development agency (a “great deal of money” = $5 million).   The two groups guaranteed Delta that they would hit certain targets and, due to the economy and the utter ridiculousness of the flight, they will pay the carrier upwards of $5 million.

If you were wondering, Delta has run a 68% load factor, which isn’t terrible, but isn’t great.  The issue, really, has been with average fares, which were projected to be $582 each way, but only hit $413.  You can do the math on all that, but the short answer is that had the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and State of Pennsylvania listened to us, they wouldn’t be out $5 million.


  1. Just drove through Pittsburgh and the signs for that flight were everywhere. I was hoping it was a secret flight for a Westiinghouse-Areva nuclear power alliance. The details are so less interesting….

  2. It’s always a shame when a city or airport authority thinks they “deserve” a certain level of air service.

    Some subsidies might make sense for the local citizens. Like CHS subsidized (for a while) Airtran service, and I’m sure tens of thousands of travellers benefited from lower fares to and from Charleston.

    Hard to see the benefit of this flight. It just put taxpayer dollars into Delta’s pocket to fly a route that few need. I guess it’s gone when the subsidy expires.

  3. I was just on (which offers some of the best international fares online) and they have a R/T flight from Pittsburgh (in May) to Paris for $1,240. That’s not too good when you can get a flight out of JFK for about $800.

  4. The $582 number you cite is not the “projected” fare, but it was the actual 2008 on-segment revenue for all PIT traffic to transatlantic destinations for the year ending June 30, 2008. If fare levels had remained stable (they had been rising approximately 4.5% per year for the previous five years), then the 68% load factor would be sufficient to hit the revenue targets. The global recession, of course, slammed fares, which is creating the current condition. The flight does not rely on domestic feed, since Paris is not the ultimate destination for the vast majority of the traffic. It relies on a feeder network in Europe, which Air France/Paris provides. The flight provides a way for Pittsburgh travelers to bypass the delays and congestion at the East Coast international gateways, and they are taking advantage of it.

  5. Charlie: Why in the world were you hoping that the flight was a “secret flight for Westinghouse Ariva”? What are you a corporate fascist?

  6. Apparently year two subs may not be needed and Delta has expanded Pit to CDG w/o any backup from the gov.

    Looks like Pittsburgh gets the last laugh.