OneJet sued for serving only 2 cities from Pittsburgh with $1M incentive
Allegheny County Airport Authority sued startup airline OneJet for flying to only two cities instead of the 10 it promised when it received a $1 million incentive to operate out of Pittsburgh International Airport.
The lawsuit, filed Friday in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, said the carrier owes the authority $763,000.
The authority paid the carrier $1 million in state gambling tax revenue in June 2016 in exchange for the carrier to launch 10 routes. At the time, it was the largest incentive the airport had ever given an airline. OneJet was required to fly each new route five days a week for at least five years, the lawsuit said.
The carrier now flies to only two cities from Pittsburgh -- Indianapolis and Hartford, Conn. A OneJet spokeswoman did not immediately return a request for comment.
Airport spokesman Bob Kerlik said the lawsuit speaks for itself and provided no further comment.
OneJet launched and then cut service from Pittsburgh to Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Nashville, Richmond, Va.; Albany, N.Y.; Providence, R.I.; Hartford; Kansas City, Mo.; and Palm Beach, Fla.
Service to Memphis never launched, Kerlik said. The carrier told the Tribune-Review last month it planned to launch the Memphis service and re-launch the defunct Nashville service in October.
Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis told the Trib last month if the carrier did not launch the Tennessee routes by October, the authority could take back some of the incentive money.
At the time, the OneJet website showed flights were available from Pittsburgh to eight cities. The airline has been serving only two cities since June or July, Kerlik said Monday. As of Monday, the carrier’s website only shows two possible destinations from Pittsburgh. An airport website displaying available nonstop destinations still includes all the OneJet routes that have ended.
The authority demanded the carrier pay the $763,000, but the carrier refused, the lawsuit alleged. The carrier also owes a $54,000 security deposit and has failed to pay airline fees and lease payments in a timely fashion, the lawsuit alleged.
“As a result of OneJet’s breach, (the authority) has suffered and will suffer monetary damages, including the distribution, lost customers, lost revenue, lost profits and/or lost customer and industry goodwill, without limitation,” the lawsuit said.
The county, through its redevelopment authority, granted the carrier $1.5 million in loans in 2016 and 2017. It was the only county loan ever given to an airline, county spokeswoman Amie Downs said at the time.
Downs did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.
OneJet also received a $500,000 state loan and a $500,000 private investment from former PNC Financial Services Group Chairman James E. Rohr and Steelers minority owner Thomas Tull.
Robert Lewis, an airport authority board member, was also a member of OneJet’s board of directors, as of December.