By John Shumway

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In a first at Pittsburgh International Airport, a Qatar Cargo plane touched down on the runway Thursday.

“Today marks the first time with the arrival of this Qatar Airways Cargo flight that Pittsburgh has had nonstop, scheduled, international all-cargo air service,” said Bryan Dietz, the vice president of Air Service Development.

So, the plane received a ceremonial water arch welcome. Officials at Pittsburgh International Airport say the plane is a cog in the region’s growing economic engine.

“This helps to create Pittsburgh as a logistics center, and helps make the Pittsburgh region even more competitive for businesses,” said Dietz.

Waiting on the tarmac and then loaded into the plane was cargo from the local area… and surrounding regions.

Qatar Airways Cargo will operate two flights a week in and out of Pittsburgh, and its Boeing 777 dwarfs everything else on the field.

“This airplane that you see behind us is actually the largest scheduled aircraft that Pittsburgh International Airport will have on a regular basis here,” Dietz said.

Mount Lebanon’s own Carl Roberto, a pilot, helped to cut the ribbon with jumbo-sized scissors. It officially began the era of Qatar Cargo in Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, another recent addition to the airport, MyPitPass, is now into its second month. The program that allows non-ticketed people to go through security and over to airside.

“We’re averaging about 150 people a day that will go through the program to access the airside terminal to shop or see loved ones off on a flight,” said Jeff Martinelli, of the Pittsburgh Airport Authority.

When MyPitPass started last month the airport made a commitment to temporarily stop issuing passes if security lines got long and flying passengers were in jeopardy of being delayed.

“It hasn’t happened often,” says Martinelli. “I don’t know the total numbers, but it may have happened once or twice in a week or so, and only for a brief period of time at one point.”

But Martinelli says it’s still too early to start talking about extending the MyPitPass hours.

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