Philadelphia International Airport’s future as a Transatlantic Gateway

There’s been a lot of anxiety in Philadelphia ever since the announcement of the US Airways/American Airlines merger.  Can the new American Airlines find a place in its network and its business strategy for a hub 90 miles away from New York, where it also has substantial operations?  The answer, so far, has been yes, at least so far as to maintain the status quo.  But with few signs that AA is even paying much attention, the anxiety –in a city where an inferiority complex is part of the cultural identity — remains.

Even for someone who dislikes flying like I do, there are good reasons to want a better selection of destinations from PHL.  As much as flying today is an inconvenient nuisance of modern life, it is still the best option for transcontinental travel, and is the only option for crossing oceans.  Businesses decide where to locate offices based in part on the availability of convenient flights.  A good airport with a broad range of destinations is an important regional asset.  Which makes it all the more frustrating that America’s #5 city has to make do with America’s #19 airport.  It’s mostly due to geographic circumstances and not our fault.  Our domestic air market is missing two of the most lucrative markets, New York and Washington, because you can get most of the way to either city, either on the train or driving, in the time it takes to get to the airport and clear security.  International airlines are slow to add us to their route networks, because serving a different part of the country (like Chicago, or Florida, or Texas), has a greater potential profit than doubling (or tripling) down on the Northeast.  And it wasn’t that long ago that our hometown airline, US Airways, was the seventh-largest of seven legacy airlines in the United States. Continue reading Philadelphia International Airport’s future as a Transatlantic Gateway