The Allegheny County Controller’s office released results of its annual review of “street pricing” by businesses within Pittsburgh International Airport’s Airmall. The lease between the Airport Authority and the Airmall operator requires that its concessionaires not charge prices higher than those of comparable businesses outside the Airport. The County Controller is assigned to monitor compliance with this requirement.
Out of 25 businesses sampled, 20 were found to be offering at least one sampled item at a price higher than an identical or substantially similar item at a non-Airport location. Overall, 193 items were sampled, with 32 percent exceeding non-Airport prices.
“Waiting for your flight shouldn’t have to be an expensive date, and the Controller’s office takes its responsibility to ensure a perfect match with street prices seriously,” acting County Controller Tracy Royston said.
Some of the biggest differences from non-Airport prices included markups of more than 91 percent ($5.25) on a 16 oz. Stella Artois draft from Bar Symon, 77 percent ($13.00) on a Logitech wireless mouse from InMotion Entertainment, and 71 percent ($24.99) on a Majestic brand Pittsburgh Steelers t-shirt from Hudson Gifts.
Of particular concern in the COVID era, auditors found that identical KN95 masks and hand sanitizers were priced differently at vending machines throughout the Airport. The masks were priced at $3 and $5 in one vending machine on Landside, and $12 in a different vending machine on Airside. One vending machine on Landside had the sanitizers priced at $2 each in two slots and the same items priced at $3 each in another slot.
“Nowadays, no mask or hand sanitizer can be a major dealbreaker,” Royston said. “These are essential items, especially for travel, and overcharging or inconsistent pricing is inexcusable. I urge the vendor and the Airport Authority to ensure this is corrected immediately.”
The Audit showed some businesses have been repeatedly found in violation by the Controller’s office and in reviews by a consultant, and recommended that Airmall management consider instituting penalties for repeat non-compliance.
“Fourteen stores have been out of compliance in most reviews performed, both by the Controller’s office and by a consultant, dating back to 2019. These businesses are clearly not getting the message that they must comply with the requirements of their leases, and I urge the Airmall management and Airport Authority to take action to enforce compliance,” Royston said. “I also wish to thank the Airmall management and Airport Authority for their continued cooperation on this annual review.”
The full Pittsburgh International Airport Report on Street Pricing Compliance Procedures can be viewed here.
The Video Press Release can be viewed here