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Airport Audit Recommends Increased Access to Retailers at Pittsburgh International

An audit of the retail operations at the Pittsburgh International Airport found that, overall, the prices are similar to what you’d find in non-airport retailers. Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner said the airport must adhere to a “street pricing” policy that dates back to when the facility opened and offered some of the only shopping in the area.

“Each year it’s typical that we find a number of items that are overpriced at the airport,” said Wagner, “this year’s included a Harley Davidson jacket, a pair of headphones and a few other items.”

Wagner said AIRMALL, which operates the airport retailers, has been cooperative in the past and with the current audit findings and has adjusted prices accordingly.

The airport’s retail shops are an economic driver, according to Wagner, “the stores, being inside the terminal with only ticketed passengers being able to access them, that still generates roughly $7 million a year for the airport, which is significant.”

The shops being accessible only by ticketed passengers is something Wagner would like to see changed. She said those dropping off or picking up passengers are at a disadvantage.

“For Pittsburgh International Airport they cannot access the vast majority of shops in our airport, which in turn has an impact on the amount of revenue that the county receives, that the airport receives, through taxes,” she said.

Wagner suggested that the County Council and Airport Authority Board consider conducting a feasibility study of putting more AIRMALL shops outside of the gates. She said increasing revenue could help pay down debt, decrease landing fees and make flying more affordable. The airport has made efforts to open shopping to a greater audience including an open house. Another is set for December 6th from noon to 6PM and those interested in shopping must register online and present a government-issued ID.

Wagner’s office is also conducting an audit of how contracts are awarded at the airport which will include Consol Energy’s drilling contract as well as other regular recurring contracts. That is expected to be released in early 2015.

Deanna fell in love with public radio in 2001, when she landed her first job at an NPR station: KRWG-FM in Las Cruces, NM, where she also attended college. After graduating with a degree in journalism and mass communications, she spent a summer in Washington, D.C. as an intern at NPR's Morning Edition. Following that, she was a reporter/All Things Considered Host at WXXI in Rochester, NY. Before coming to Pittsburgh, Deanna was the local All Things Considered host for KUNC in northern Colorado. In her spare time, Deanna enjoys watching movies and TV shows on DVD (the Golden Girls and Little House on the Prairie are among her favorites), bicycling, yard work, and reading.