The nonstop map from the Allegheny Airport Authority.

The Magic City. Grind City. The Insurance Capital of the World.

Starting this spring and summer, they’ll all be a short flight away from the Steel City.

At a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, the low-cost regional carrier ViaAir announced that it will offer direct flights from Pittsburgh International Airport to Birmingham, Alabama, Memphis and Hartford, with same-plane connections available to Austin through the Memphis route.

Service to Birmingham will begin April 4, Memphis on June 25 and Hartford on July 23.

“Historically, throughout the country, it’s been really tough to get from medium-sized market to medium-sized market,” said Pittsburgh International Airport CEO Christina Cassotis. “We’re delighted to be adding three more markets, and we’re excited to be working with Via.”

ViaAir will utilize a Brazilian, 50-seat Embraer-145 aircraft for the flights. Speaking to the media at Pittsburgh International Airport on Wednesday afternoon, ViaAir spokesperson Don Bowman said each of the flights will run four times a week.

Executives from the Allegheny County Airport Authority and ViaAir were joined at the announcement by County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who has repeatedly stressed the need for more direct flights in order to grow Pittsburgh’s economy. Echoing Cassotis’s comments, he called the new connections an asset for mid-size cities all over the region.

The announcement was also greeted with excitement among the newly connected cities.

“We are delighted that Via Airlines will be adding a new nonstop for Memphis to Pittsburgh, a sought-after destination,” said Pace Cooper, chairman of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Board of Commissioners.

“Memphis is a great city and we’re excited to introduce nonstop service to and from Austin and Pittsburgh,” said Dominic Acevedo, ViaAir’s vice president of flight operations. “Nonstop service not only helps travelers move to and from these destinations faster and more economically than existing options but also ensures the opportunity for our own steady growth.”

The announcement comes just a few weeks after local leaders broke ground on the airport’s new Innovation Campus, a nearby 195-acre tract of land that will be developed into a mix of office and industrial spaces.

Tickets will be available on ViaAir’s website starting January 10.

Bill O'Toole

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.