The Allegheny County Airport Authority has commenced the production of natural gas at Pittsburgh International Airport in Pennsylvania, US.

Under the terms of the deal, the airport authority received an up-front payment of $46m and will also receive 18% royalties on the natural gas produced at the airport.

The natural gas production project, which will result in the first royalty payments from American energy company Consol Energy to the Airport Authority, facilitates a critical non-aviation revenue stream that would boost further reduction in fees to airlines.

Allegheny County Airport Authority chief executive officer Christina Cassotis said: “Since the initial lease was signed and upfront payment received, we have reduced fees to airlines to their lowest rate in eight years.

“Innovative partnerships like this with a local, world-class company like Consol are key in helping attract air service.”

With the development and production partnership expected to continue through 2018, the new project will not only boost natural gas exploration, but will also add hundreds of millions of dollars to the regions’s economy.

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Consol Energy COO Tim Dugan said: “As a company that has called this region home for 152 years, we are very proud to have been selected to develop this flagship project.

"Innovative partnerships like this with a local, world-class company like Consol are key in helping attract air service."

“Consol takes our responsibility in terms of safety and protecting the environment very seriously.”

As part of the project, all six wells on Pad Two have been turned in-line and are currently flowing natural gas into the MarkWest midstream infrastructure system, which was built for the natural gas project at Pittsburgh International Airport.

Monthly production reports, as well as payments to the airport authority, are expected to commence within the coming few months.

Allegheny County Airport Authority operates Pittsburgh International Airport and the Allegheny County Airport, with an aim to enhance air service, improve customer service and support growth in the Pittsburgh region.

Image: Aerial view of Pittsburgh International Airport. Photo: courtesy of MeRyan.