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OneJet could lose incentive money over Pittsburgh route delays

July 24, 2018

ONEJET

OneJet still has not launched two of the 10 routes it promised after receiving the largest subsidy the Allegheny County Airport Authority has ever granted an airline.

Airport officials could take back some of the $1 million incentive if routes to Nashville and Memphis are not up and running by October, airport spokesman Bob Kerlik said.

The carrier plans to launch Memphis service in October, seven months later than anticipated, a OneJet spokeswoman told the Tribune-Review. The spokeswoman would not say when the flight to Nashville will resume.

OneJet received a total of $3 million in grants, loans and subsidies from the state, county and the airport authority.

Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis said she was disappointed with the delay.

“We are trying to understand what’s happening here so as we go through our conversations with OneJet, we will be looking for a solid operational plan and confidence that this will happen and then we’ll make a decision as to whether or not there’s anything else we need to do,” Cassotis said.

The carrier had not told airport officials they planned to launch the Memphis flights in October and has not told them when they plan to resume the Nashville flights, Cassotis said.

Southwest Airlines serves Nashville from Pittsburgh twice daily.

During a December airport press conference, the carrier announced it would launch service to Memphis on March 27.

Last year, the carrier launched flights to Nashville, but they had stopped by March.

In late March, a OneJet spokesman told the Trib the Memphis flights would launch and the Nashville flights would resume “in the coming weeks.”

The OneJet spokeswoman Friday declined to say when the Nashville service would resume.

The flights are delayed because OneJet upgraded to larger planes last month, a spokeswoman said.

“They are doubling seating capacity out of PIT over the next two quarters,” said OneJet spokeswoman Sujin Oh in an email. “They are working with Memphis (and Nashville) gateways to work out how they will accommodate the now larger planes.”

OneJet’s new planes hold 30 seats instead of seven.

OneJet CEO Matt Maguire declined to comment.

In 2016, Cassotis granted OneJet $1 million in state gambling tax revenue in exchange for 10 routes and for the carrier to base its operations in Pittsburgh. The startup airline also received $1.5 million in county loans and a $500,000 state loan.

It was the largest incentive the airport has ever awarded an airline, and the only time the county has given a loan to an airline.

An airport incentive to Qatar Airways for cargo service could surpass OneJet as the largest ever awarded. If the carrier fails to meet its tonnage goals for its entire first year of service, ending in October, it will receive $1.48 million.

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