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PghUSA

As PHL grows, so do the complaints :(

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Seems Philly airport (one designed never to be a hub or major traffic destination) has continued to painfully outgrow it's capacity. It has now been ranked last in on-time stats for any "major" airport. Although I try not to think of what might have beens, PIT was designed specifically for USAirways World hub in the 80's and early 90's, Philly deserves all the traffic it can get but it was never intended to overtake PIT like it has in the last few years. What is most disappointing is that the largest market in the state is getting a negative connotation from flyers and airline execs alike, one not deserved by Philly but by a few greedy execs looking to milk every penny out of an airport that can't take it (are you listening USAirways and Southwest?).

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06128/688373-85.stm

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On the whole, I think its better than PHL be "too small" than "too large" (which has been the case with PIT and DEN). An airport aht is too small can always expand (albeit with difficultly) whereas an airport that is "too big" often gets put into the catch-22 of having to attract more business to fill the space while, at the same time, not being able to attract business because the landing fees are too high (due to paying for the underutilized infrastructure).

The problem, in any event, is often outside the control of PHL. The majority of the delays are not caused by the design of the airport or its runway system at all but rather because the flight paths to and from PHL are restricted so as not to conflcit with planes flying into JFK, EWR, LGA, BWI, DCA, and IAD. The DC area has space on one side and the NYC area has space on the other. PHL is sandwiched in between and thus is constricted on both sides. Its easy to see if you have ever flown into PHL from overseas. Flights from Europe must arc around NYC to access PHL. Flights from Mexico and Central America have to fly over the ocean (rather than taking the logical path over the DC area) to access PHL.

I'm glad that PHL is finally living up to its potential as a major East Coast hub. For too long, not being a hub for a major airline has meant that it had been overshadowed by the NYC and DC area airports when it came to international service. The US Airways hub has helped. Granted, no new international airline has started service to PHL because of the hub (British Airways, Air France, and Lufthansa having served PHL on and off since at least the 60's). However, the hub has meant that PHL now has US Airways flights to London, Manchester, Glasgow, Dublin, Shannon, Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Milan, Lisbon, Rome, Vienna, Munich, Frankfurt, Stockholm and a number of locations in Mexico, the Carribean, and Central America. IT still is, however, the largest US city with no service to Asia. However, that may change soon as the rumor mill is that Air China and El Al (Israel) are looking to start service to PHL. I don't know how great that rumoe is. However, Delta, which was going to move into underutilized gates in the international terminal, was recently told by airpot management that it had to stay put (this after spending $$$ on plans for its new home). Sicne that's several gates, the airport must be close to signing a deal with at least several airlines and I imagine the long-anticipated arrival of Aeromexico and Aer Lingus are not what caused the airport to boot out Delta. So there might be come substance in the Air China and El Al rumors.

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Interesting news on the added airlines mulling over PHL, also didn't realize about the approach paths into PHL being so affected by Dulles (or did you mean BWI) and NWR, LGA and JFK.

That is quite a list of European flights--those are all direct nonstops right? I knew Philly had the bigboys Paris, Frankfurt, London, but thats over a dozen European directs, impressive.

I wonder what would have been with the NYC and DC areas if Philly had from the start emphasized airtravel instead of just growing out the airfield that was to become PHL.

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Interesting news on the added airlines mulling over PHL, also didn't realize about the approach paths into PHL being so affected by Dulles (or did you mean BWI) and NWR, LGA and JFK.

Nope, Dulles. The Dulles-BWI-Reagan traffic flow is all treated as one complex and the PHL-Newark-JFK-Laguardia traffic flow is treated as the another. So, ineffect, PHL gets squeeze in between the two beheamouths.

That is quite a list of European flights--those are all direct nonstops right? I knew Philly had the bigboys Paris, Frankfurt, London, but thats over a dozen European directs, impressive.
All the ones I listed are non-stops. If we included one-stops (same flight number, change of plane) then we could add Hong Kong (United 895/896), Guadalahara, Mexico (AA), and perhaps Caracas, Venezuela (on and off with AA).

I once counted the number of non-stop international destinations from PHL and it is over a dozen European ones plus a huge number of Carribean ones and some Central American and Mexican ones. I think the total number of international non-stops is around 35 or so if not more. That's with US Airways alone. With foreign airlines, there's British Airways to London, Air France to Paris, Lufthansa to Frankfurt, Air Jamaica to Montego Bay, Air Canada to Montreal and Toronto, and, soon, Aeromexico to Mexico City (plus the rumored Air China to Beijing and El Al to Tel Aviv).

I wonder what would have been with the NYC and DC areas if Philly had from the start emphasized airtravel instead of just growing out the airfield that was to become PHL.

I think NYC would have kept all of its flights. PHL would ahve been able to have some of the business that's now in DC, however. For oen thing, PHL almost certainly would ahve had a Tokyo flight - soemthing which it doesn't have now because most airlines feel that areas jsut to teh south can be served from DC, areas to the north can be served from NYC, and people in PHL can be satisified by funneling them through Chicago. PHL probably would have also landed South African Airways (which is now in DC since they're partnered with United - they're also partnered with US Airways but United has a mroe estbalished hub in DC).

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This only means that PHL can expand, and with the Olympics being proposed for Philadelphia in 2016, a new int'l terminal needs to be constructed. I'd also like to see the following airlines occupy the new int'l terminal, with the exception of British Airways, Virgin Atlantic (who needs to come to Philly), Air France, and Air Canada:

Air India

Air Jamaica

Aer Lingus (Ireland)

BWIA

Cathay Pacific (China; HK)

El Al

Alitalia

SAS Scandinavian

KLM

Korean Air Lines

Japan Air Lines

Lufthansa

Iberia

TAP Air Portugal

VARIG

Aeromexico

TACA (Central America)

Olympic (Greece)

FinnAir

I'm hoping that this extra traffic is the boost that forces PHL to grow and to accept working in a global economy.

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This only means that PHL can expand, and with the Olympics being proposed for Philadelphia in 2016, a new int'l terminal needs to be constructed. I'd also like to see the following airlines occupy the new int'l terminal, with the exception of British Airways, Virgin Atlantic (who needs to come to Philly), Air France, and Air Canada:

Air India

Forget Air India. I'd rather see Emirates since they're more modern and have mroe connecting flights. True, they go to Dubai, but many passengers to India use them and Air India doesn't fly non-stop from the US to India anyway.

Air Jamaica

They're already at PHL

Aer Lingus (Ireland)

Aer Lingus is rumored to be on the cusp of starting service. PHL was on their short list but they were short of planes and then US Airways scooped them by starting service first. However, PHL to Ireland flights ahve been doing so well that Aer Lingus is still interested.

BWIA

Cathay Pacific (China; HK)

El Al

El Al is rumored to be coming.

Alitalia

SAS Scandinavian

KLM

KLM may be back sicne they've been at PHL on and off (often switching with partner Northwest). They last dropped service in 1999 and US Airways quickly picked it up so now they're probably squeamish for fear of having to compete with US Airways on its home turf.

Alitalia is another possibility sicne they've also served PHL on and off but it probably won't happen until they're out of bankruptcy and, with US Airways serving 3 - THREE - Italian cities non-stop from PHL (Rome, Milan, and Venice), it probably won't happen.

As for SAS, US Ariways starting service from PHL to Stockholm non-stop probably mooted any interest from SAS to start service to PHL.

Korean Air Lines

Japan Air Lines

Lufthansa

Korean has been flirting with PHL for maybe 10 years now. They did start service to Boston only to see ti fail so they mgiht be squeamish about starting PHL. I expect them to fly a traingle route - Seoul-PHL-DC - at first. This is what they did with Boston (tagging it onto their DC service as a triangle route).

Japan Air Lines? Unlikely due to the US Airways hub. It makes mroe sense for ANA to come to PHL sicne they're partners with US. Ana seems to have a bigger US network anyway.

Iberia

TAP Air Portugal

Unlikely with US Airways already serving Madrid, Barcelona, and Lisbon non-stop from PHL.

VARIG

Maybe in the next 10 eyars with the 787. Msot likely, they'd tag on another city. Perhaps a Sao Paulo-PHL-Boston route. They've been interested in Boston for years due to teh large Brazilian population there. However, they probabyl weren't able to make it work sicne its too far and the demand wasn;t great enough. With the Brazilian population in teh PHL area growing, it might make mroe sense to do a combined PHL-BOS route.

Aeromexico

They're coming. This si also another on again/off again airline for PHL. However, it seems that recently mot airlines that have returned to PHL have come to stay.

TACA (Central America)

Unlikely since US Airways already serves Costa Rica non-stop from PHL and Costa Rica is, I beleive, the biggest market for TACA. I'd rather see Copa (Panama) since they have a large line of connecting flights from Panama to South America.

Olympic (Greece)

FinnAir

They're probably restricted by the size of their fleets. I expect Athens to be one of the markets US Airways expands to non-stop from PHL once they get more planes (Vienna and Warsaw being the others). US Airways has alrady expressed interest in these cities and has looked into them. They jsut don't have the planes.

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Urban, I am always fascinated with your in-depth knowledge of the airline industry and history. Love to read your take on things. Too bad about SAS being scared off PHL by a USAirways preemption to Stockholm, maybe Oslo or Copenhagen would be a good in for SAS. I used to know some ComAir/Delta pilots who had some close quarters with an SAS crew at a New York airport, they very much enjoyed chillin with the female attendants after a day in the air. I'm sure that could brighten up any worn out NE airport. But back to the business side of things :P.

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I also think that the fact that US Airways is another reason why PHL isn't growing as fast as it should. It has a stranglehold on the Philly market, meaning other major airlines can't compete with them, and can only provide service to their hub cities. I talked to one of the Northwest clerks about a direct flight from PHL to Amsterdam and she told me that you have to go to Detroit to catch a KLM flight to Holland. No matter the airline industry is in shambles!!!! Too many monopolies in certain cities and not enough competition. Even though Southwest opened up the travel market in 2004, I don't really consider it a competitor as far as int'l service is considered. It's a monopoly that US Airways is running and I'm tired of it.

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I also think that the fact that US Airways is another reason why PHL isn't growing as fast as it should. It has a stranglehold on the Philly market, meaning other major airlines can't compete with them, and can only provide service to their hub cities. I talked to one of the Northwest clerks about a direct flight from PHL to Amsterdam and she told me that you have to go to Detroit to catch a KLM flight to Holland. No matter the airline industry is in shambles!!!! Too many monopolies in certain cities and not enough competition. Even though Southwest opened up the travel market in 2004, I don't really consider it a competitor as far as int'l service is considered. It's a monopoly that US Airways is running and I'm tired of it.

There is a non-stop from PHL to Amsterdam on US Airways.

As far as international is concerned, I think PHL wouldn't have half the flights it has now were it not for US Airways. Prior to the US Airways hub, the only constant international flights (outside of the Canadian ones) were Philadelphia to London on British Airways or TWA (later American) and Air Jamaica to Montego Bay. Air France to Paris, Lufthansa to Frankfurt, KLM/Northwest to Amsterdam, Swissair to Zurich, Altitalia to Rome, and even Mexicana or Aeromexico to Mexico City were on and off depending on whether the airlines felt they could make money on the rotues or not. Of those airlines, only Air France and Lufthansa are still in PHL.

KLM/Northwest (the two are partners on trans-Atlantic flights and often switch off) pulled out of PHL in 1999 not because they faced competition from US Airways (US Airways didn't serve Amsterdam back then) but because they decided that it wasn't worthwhile for them to run the route they pulled out. US Airways picked it up and has been doing well (thanks to the feeder traffic from the hub) ever since.

The way I see it, KLM, Mexicana, Aeromexico, Swissair, and Alitalia are fiar weather friends. They ahve no true base in PHL and to them PHL is just anotehr city which they can either decide to serve or cut service because they assume "NYC is close enough". US Airways, however, is committed to PHL and it is in their best itnerest to grow PHL internationally. they aren't leaving anytime soon and they also ahve the hub structure to support flights to places like Stockholm, Venice, Lisbon, Glasgow, and several other cities that they serve non-stop from PHL that mgiht not have been served by such a flight otherwise.

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My question for PHL watchers is that I've heard about runway expansions and plans for additional runways, anyone have a comprehensive breakdown of the additions and extensions since USAirways hubbed Philly after 9/11?

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My question for PHL watchers is that I've heard about runway expansions and plans for additional runways, anyone have a comprehensive breakdown of the additions and extensions since USAirways hubbed Philly after 9/11?

US Airways hubbed PHL before 9/11. It was probably in the 80's. PHL had been a clear third place hub throughout the 90's after PIT and CLT. After 9/11, PIT got reduced to third and then made a focus city so PHL moved up to second. CLT is still US Airways' biggest hub though not its most important or profitable.

As for runway expansions, I think one runway was built for commuter planes but it needs to be extended to accomodate the new generation of regional jets. Other than that, no extensions. However, terminal-wise PHL has gone through major changes since the US Airways hub. Terminals B and C have been renovated (1997) top to bottom to serve as the US Airways terminal (now combined into Teminal B/C). Terminal A West (2003) was built for international flights with US Airways as the main tenant. Also Terminal F (2001)was built for US Airways' commuter services.

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^^Interesting Urban, I had thought that Philly did improve a few runways recently, in a way that's good that they are using capacity finally but I would have hoped that the airport could implement improvements faster :).

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Was boarding a plane at PIT recently, had a Philadelphian there with us . . . make a long story short she had nothing nice to say about PHL, I reminded her of what I hear from other Philly residents about the good terminal areas etc. Her beef was not only the delays but when I mentioned the terminals and the good news about them, she interrupted me with a story of them coming in from London. Seems she had to wait through not one but two security lines one for the airport and then one for customs, customs according to her was yet another nightmare and very inefficently laid out and organized. She said that when she complained about the 2nd security check to get into customs they told her that the terminal was not a "secure" area, this after going through security as soon as she left the plane. Again this is second hand and happened a year ago so I'm interested in the views of those of you in the know. I am interested in wether this was just some momentary glitch or why Philly would have this type of system on a permanent basis. According to the woman she has never gone through customs like that before. Just an experience from someone looking to learn more about how that works.

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I don't recall any second security check before going through customs. My guess is that this was a special situation that occurred during one of the many "Code Orange" alerts over the years and was probably put into place at every airport. At PHL its a direct shot from immigrations to customs. In fact, there's no security check at all, jsut an immigrations check and a customs check. These are required of all international flights no matter which airport. Overall, I'd rather fly into PHL from overseas than any other airport. All the international flights go into one terminal and that terminal has a large 40-something gate immigration area so the lines typically aren't long. The airport I'd avoid at all costs is ATL since the lines there are horrendous - too many people and too few gates at immigration. I've heard that IAD is pretty bad too.

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Really Dulles, never flown international through Dulles but that is interesting. Thanks for the clarification, her biggest gripe is that when she asked about it the response was "the airport is not a secure area"?!? Good to get that clarified, I wonder if improvements were made to it in the last few years? If I ever see her again (I actually just flew back with a dude that had a flight with me last month . . . small world) I'll be sure and tell her about your experiences. Although I root for PIT, PHL can give Pennsylvania a great name if the buzz on the street is accurate.

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i fly to philly fairly regularly on southwest from providence. i am delayed everytime because of something at PHL. that's my only complaint about that airport. other than the delays, i don't mind it so much. getting through security for the southwest terminals (E and D i think) is pretty easy and quick. i don't know how true it is, but i've heard the reasons for the delays are that they only have 1 runway for arrivals and 1 for departures, creating a lot of backup, especially if something breaksdown or goes wrong on one of them. i have heard they're in the process of building a new runway, but i don't know how true that is.

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CLT is still US Airways' biggest hub though not its most important or profitable.

Do you have a source for that? (Profitability)

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anyone here have any inside knowledge into why PHL does not seem to know what they're doing? when other airports hit by the same storm bounce back from it, PHL lags behind. my fiancee is flying from PHL to PVD today, a 45 min flight, but her flight is delayed 3 hours! what's the deal with that? they had an arrival delay of just over 2 hours earlier today, but that's been reduced to 45 minute and there's no departure delays except for certain airports, of which PVD is not included. this really bothers me because i love philly and i (or my fiancee) travel between here and there every 2 weeks. i have never had a flight in or out of PHL that wasn't delayed by at least half an hour because of some crap going on at PHL, but not out of the ordinary crap... it's all stuff other airports bounce right back from and manage just fine. i just don't understand how a flight coming in from an airport without problems and then flying out to an airport without problems get delayed by 3 hours.

also, their security is always slow.

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