Airport Authority CEO Talks Increased Passenger Traffic, New Flights & Airlines Calling It Quits

Feb 1, 2019

Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis says federal TSA workers serving the region's two main airports are glad to be at work—and receiving a paycheck—since the government shutdown halted late last week. 

Pittsburgh International marked its busiest year for passenger traffic since 2007, despite losing two regional airline partners in OneJet and WOW Airlines. WOW could return after its internal restructuring, Cassotis says, and in the mean time, work continues on PIT's new $1 billion terminal. Concept drawings are scheduled for release Feb. 20, with firmer plans due out later this summer. 

Later in the program, pressure is mounting for two state lawmakers to resign after both were accused of sexual misconduct. Republican Rep. Brian Ellis and Democratic Sen. Daylin Leach each face allegations. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Liz Navratil reports that Sen. Leach is suing his accuser, a move that prompted calls for expulsion from his colleagues. State leaders, including Gov. Wolf, have called for Sen. Leach and Rep. Ellis to step down. 

As UPMC and Highmark inch closer to their final split, county officials are hoping it can be averted. Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner launched an online petition last month calling for state officials to step in. She says despite a years-long fight between the two health care providers, the relationship can still be salvaged. She announced a slate of town hall meetings where residents can sign the petition and share their concerns in person. Local elected officials and representatives of UPMC and Highmark have been invited to attend. 

This Sunday mark's Pennsylvania's first Super Bowl where betters can try their luck with legal wagers on the big game. Jessica Welman, executive editor of PlayPennsylvania, which follows the gambling and sports betting industries, says Pennsylvanians have already placed thousands of side wagers on action within the game, but it has limitations—betters can't win big on, say, the color of the Gatorade, at least not legally. Welman says several casinos came online in December, acruing about $16 million in bets, which translates to about $2 million in casino revenue. About one-third of those profits go directly to state coffers, she says. Sunday's matchup between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams kicks off at 6:30 p.m.

And the recent cold snap put a strain on power grids across the Midwest. Demand within PJM’s 13-state service territory, which includes Pennsylvania, peaked Thursday morning at 139,000 megawatts, a bit shy of the record-high 143,000 megawatts in February 2015. 90.5 WESA's Amy Sisk reports that companies like PJM will take generators offline for maintenance so they are ready to run again during the next bout of winter weather.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators join veteran journalist Kevin Gavin, taking an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.