Airport Operations and Management -Philadelphia International Airport

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Table of Contents

Abstract

Introduction

Section 1:  Overview

Section 2: Airside Operations

Section 3: Terminal Operations

Section 4: Landside Operations

Section 5: Economic, Political, and Social Role

Section 7: Conclusion

References

Abstract

Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is a commercial service airport in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Among the busiest in the United States, PHL has managed to become and stay a regional economic superpower in the Northeast.  This paper is an analysis of PHL covering everything from its history and financial status to its social role in the region and plans for the future of the airport.  This paper examines what it takes to operate a successful commercial service airport and how PHL plans to remain a prime example of a regional economic powerhouse airport.

Philadelphia International Airport

Introduction

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is a beautiful city rich in history which boasts the seventh largest metropolitan area in the United States.  Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is classified by the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS) as a large hub commercial service airport, and is the only major airport in the city, serving in excess of 30 million passengers every year.  PHL hosts 25 airlines that offer roughly 500 departures to over 120 locations around the world every day.  The airport uses no local tax dollars and is a self-sustaining organization.  PHL is one of the largest economy boosters in the region, generating over 96,000 jobs and $15.4 billion to the economy annually (Philadelphia International Airport, 2017a).

Section 1:  Overview

History

The 1920s was an exciting time for aviation with the City of Philadelphia officially entering the excitement in 1925, providing 125 acres of land, which is now part of PHL property, for training Pennsylvania National Guard aviators.  Later in 1926, the City entered an agreement with Ludington Exhibition Company (later becoming Eastern Airlines) to operate the area as the “Municipal Aviation Landing Field.”  On October 22, 1927, history was made when the famous pilot, Charles A. Lindbergh landed the Spirit of Saint Louis at the airport not long after his flight from New York to Paris.  During his visit, the airport was dedicated with the raising of the American Flag, as Philadelphia Municipal Airport (Philadelphia International Airport, 2017d).

In 1930, to expand the airport, the City purchased an abandoned island site, which had been used for emergency shipbuilding during World War I, from the Federal Government for $3 million.  The project was postponed until 1937 because of the Great Depression.  With construction on the building and landing field completed, the new airport was formally opened as Philadelphia Municipal Airport on June 20, 1940.  American, Eastern, United, and TWA moved their operations from nearby Camden, New Jersey to Philadelphia (Philadelphia International Airport, 2017d).

The airlines transported 40,000 passengers in the first year of operation, flying Douglas DC-3, 21 passenger planes.  During World War II, the airport was forced to close due to military security and was reopened in 1945 with the dedication of the $3.5 million Northeast Philadelphia Airport.  Later that year, the airport became Philadelphia International Airport when American Overseas Airlines began their transatlantic service from it.  In 1950, construction began on a new $15 million terminal building and was completed in 1953 (Philadelphia International Airport, 2017d).

In the 1960s, the City’s Division of Aviation built a new passenger and airfield facilities to meet the needs of the spiked number of passengers spurred by the jet age.  The airlines also committed to the new project which created the present-day facility.  In the 1970s, a new $22 million runway and high-speed taxiways were dedicated.  In addition, in 1973, the airport opened a $3 million international terminal in 1974.  In 1977, a $300 million modernization project replaced the domestic terminal with four unit-style terminals (B, C, D, and E).  A $24 million parking garage was also built (Philadelphia International Airport, 2017d).

In the 1980s, the airport saw more improvement and expansion beginning with a $695 million capital improvement program.  A new $6.5 million air traffic control complex was opened in 1981.  In 1984, rental car agencies were relocated to free up 500 parking spacing and the airport’s heating and air conditioning system saw an $11 million renovation.  In 1985, a new rail line connected downtown Philadelphia with the airport, and by the end of the 1980s a new cargo facility was completed.  By the end of the decade, a complete renovation of the terminals was completed, along with new restrooms and a new 2,800-space parking garage (Philadelphia International Airport, 2017d).

The 1990s brought another decade of improvement for PHL.  A newly consolidated B and C terminal featured more than 50 ticketing positions and many new local eating establishments.  In 1999, PHL started construction on a new terminal F.  In addition, in 1999, the airport constructed a brand-new, $221 million, 5,000-foot runway for regional and general aviation aircraft (Philadelphia International Airport, 2017d).

PHL has seen a vast amount of improvements and expansion in the early 21st century.  Two new terminals have been opened bring the airport from 1.4 million to 2.4 million square feet.  There number of boarding gates has been expanded from 55 to 130.  In 2001, the new Terminal F was finished.  Terminal F boasts three concourses with 38 gates for commuter and regional aircraft with special jetways to transition from the terminal directly unto the smaller aircraft.  Passengers can enjoy the luxuries of a larger terminal with all of the amenities even when boarding smaller aircraft.  Also in 2001, a $17 million ramp control tower was opened to smooth the flow of the enormous amount of traffic on PHL’s large ramps (Philadelphia International Airport, 2017d).

In 2003, the airport opened the $550 million, state-of-the-art Terminal A-West.  The terminal hosts almost 4 million international passengers each year.  It has 13 international gates and a huge Customs and Immigration check complex.  Terminal A-West construction also included a new ramp to the facility from the nearby Interstate-95.  In 2005, PHL became the world’s 9th busiest airport with over 535,000 aircraft operations.  In 1940, PHL transported 40,000 passengers, and now PHL servers more than 31 million passengers annually (Philadelphia International Airport, 2017d).

Ownership and Financial Status

A complete budget review of PHL is extremely detailed and well beyond the scope of this paper; however, a brief summary of the cashflow of the airport is presented here.  PHL is owned by the City of Philadelphia and operated by the city’s Division of Aviation.  The city operates an Aviation Fund.  It is an enterprise fund established by the government to account for services provided to the public bases on user charges.  This fund is operated similar to a private business activity.  The Aviation Fund is self-supporting.  It uses aircraft landing fees, building space rentals, concession revenue, and a multitude of other facility charges to fund its expenses.  The airport also has a capital program funded by city-issued revenue bonds, federal grants, state grants, Passenger Facility Charges (PFC), and other sources.  The Aviation Fund’s total revenues including capital contributions exceeded its expenses in fiscal year 2016 by $62 million.  In addition, the airport’s assets exceeded liabilities by $866.2 million (City of Philadelphia, 2016).

The activity of the Aviation Fund is recorded in three financial statements: The Statement of Net Position, the Statement of Revenues, Expenses and Changes in Fund Net Position, and the Statement of Cash Flows.  The Statement of Net Position shows the difference between the airport’s assets and deferred outflows against the airport’s liabilities and deferred inflows.  The total net position for 2016 was $866.2 million.  The Statement of Revenues, Expenses and Changes in Fund Net Position shows the difference of net position for each fiscal year.  In 2016, PHL saw a 7.7% increase in net position.  This indicates whether the airport’s overall financial situation has improved on declined.  The Statement of Cash Flows shows the inflow and outflow of cash by category presenting the difference between the two.  This is then reflected into the Statement of Net Position.  PHL’s balance at end of year 2016 was $110.6 million, a 15.9% increase from the previous end of year (City of Philadelphia, 2016).

The history and expansion of PHL is extraordinary.  Because of the city’s unwavering efforts to improve the airport and its public relations, PHL has been able to generate a massive amount of revenue and jobs for the region.  The history and financial status of this airport truly shows what is necessary to keep a facility of this size ahead of the economic power curve.

Section 2: Airside Operations


PHL is the 20th busiest airport in North America in regard to passenger traffic and the 19th busiest in regard to cargo volume.  This major traffic and cargo would not be possible without the airport’s robust airside facilities.  Philadelphia has been at the forefront of modernizing its facilities to not only accommodate the enormous amount of air traffic, but to keep its passengers and employees as safe as possible (Federal Aviation Administration, 2017).

Figure 1. Airport Diagram. Adapted from Airnav.com, 2017, Retrieved from http://www.airnav.com/airport/KPHL.

Figure 1. Airport Diagram. Adapted from Airnav.com, 2017, Retrieved from http://www.airnav.com/airport/KPHL.

PHL is situated on a narrow strip of land between Interstate-95 and the Delaware River.  Although it has expanded dramatically over the last 40 years, it has nearly used up all of the land in its immediate vicinity.  In fact, the newest runway addition proposal has a build-up of land into the river to accommodate the southwestern end of the runway.  PHL has four runways: 9L-27R, 9R-27L, 8-26, and 17-35.  Runways 9L-27R and 9R-27L are the main (longer) runways with the most precise approaches and are used by heavy cargo and passenger planes.  The other runways are mainly used by smaller regional carriers and general aviation traffic.  Because of the airport’s small land area and runway orientation, the taxiway design is very complicated forcing controllers to route traffic across runways.  This setup also complicates the arrival and departure sequence, especially during reduced visibility (Airnav, 2017).

PHL has relatively long departure times.  This is due partly to the taxiway arrangement, and also due to the high volume of traffic in the region from the New York and Washington, D.C. areas (Federal Aviation Administration, 2017).  Although the airport would benefit highly from a new taxiway arrangement, substantial downtime during construction could be more hassle than it’s worth.  There is a substantial amount of construction that would have to take place to have any significant effect.

Airfield Lighting

Airfield lighting allows pilots to depart, arrive, and taxi about the airport during reduced visibility conditions or nighttime operations.  PHL has a very advanced lighting system.  All runways are equipped with High Intensity Runway Lighting (HIRL) which outline the edges during hours of darkness.  Also, all runways except 17-35 are equipped with centerline lighting to allow for precise runway alignment during reduced visibility.  Runway 9R, the premier “precision” runway, also has touchdown zone lighting, allowing pilots to execute a Category III Instrument Landing System (ILS) approach, the most precise type of approach for extreme visibility conditions.  Additionally, all of the runways except 8 and 35 have an approach lighting system to provide another means of runway identification for pilots while operating under IFR.  Furthermore, five of PHL’s runways have visual glideslope indicators, allowing pilots to align their aircraft vertically on the runways without the use of on-board instrumentation.  Although not all of the runways at PHL are equipped the same, the lighting there is more than enough to
support their operations. (Airnav, 2017).

Figure 2. ILS/PRM. Adapted from Aeronautical Information Manual, Federal Aviation Administration, 2017. Retrieved from https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/media/aim.pdf. Copyright 2017 by FAA

Figure 2. ILS/PRM. Adapted from Aeronautical Information Manual, Federal Aviation Administration, 2017. Retrieved from https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/media/aim.pdf. Copyright 2017 by FAA

Navigational Aids

Navigational aids (NAVAIDS) are critical in providing pilots with information for runway alignment, lateral guidance, and vertical guidance to approach an airport for landing, especially in poor visibility conditions.  They can also be used as part of a departure procedure to guide pilots out of the airport through high traffic areas and even around rising terrain or obstacles.  Like most modern airports, PHL has Global Positioning System (GPS) approach procedures for nearly every runway.  There are no Very-High-Frequency Omnidirectional Range (VOR) radio beacons on the field itself, but the airport uses VORs throughout the controlled airspace for its departure and arrival procedures.  It also has Instrument Landing System (ILS) procedures for six of its runways, including Category II and Category III ILS approaches on the main runways.  ILS procedures allow pilots to make landings during times of reduced visibility with the most precise technology available today.  These systems also incorporate equipment called Runway Visual Range (RVR) facilities, which measure the horizontal visibility along the runways.  In addition, PHL is one of only a few airports to have a Precision Runway Monitoring (PRM) system.  This system provides surveillance of the airport’s approach and departure areas allowing closely spaced simultaneously approaches and departures on parallel runways.  This system is key to PHL’s traffic flow with the close proximity of the runways.  PHL only has one standard instrument departure (SID) for the field, and it is a traditional departure.  The airport could benefit greatly from modern GPS departures deconflicted with nearby terminal areas.  Perhaps, the addition of more SIDs would help alleviate some of the aforementioned departure delays. (Airnav, 2017).

Air Traffic Control and Surveillance Facilities

Like most major airfields, PHL has an air traffic control tower located on the field.  The current tower was built in the 1980s and includes a terminal radar and approach control (TRACON) facility in the lower level.  The tower is also able to monitor ground traffic under extremely low visibility conditions using airport surface detection equipment (ASDE-X).  Recently, the airport announced its plan to build a new state-of-the-art air traffic control tower.  After over 30 years of advances in technology and increased traffic, the airport is calling for a modernized tower to enhance awareness and safety (Weiss, 2015).

Cargo

Due to its location, PHL is a great airport for cargo operations.  Nearly half of the nation’s population is within a day’s drive of the airport.  Also, I-95, as mentioned earlier, is right next to the airport allowing for easing trucking of cargo from Maine all the way to Florida.  PHL has 24/7 cargo operations and lures in major cargo haulers with their two long runways.  In 2013, PHL handled over 390,000 tons of cargo (Philadelphia International Airport, 2017h).

Fixed Base Operators

Fixed base operators (FBO) can be a very attractive for corporate and private jet owners.  PHL has only one FBO operated by Atlantic Aviation.  The FBO features heated hangar space, charters, de-icing, crew cars, pilot’s lounge, and rental cars.  The FBO is located on the northeast corner of PHL with very easy access from the smaller runways (Atlantic Aviation, 2017).

The facilities on PHL combine a variety of technologies that accommodate a wide range of customers.  Each piece works together with the other to bring the best experience possible to the consumer.  The success of PHL would not be possible without the precise management of these different airside facilities.  PHL has been able to make an enormous regional economic impact with its facilities, and as long as they continue to innovate, they will continue to be a very successful airport.

Section 3: Terminal Operations

PHL is situated on a relatively small land area of 2,410 acres between I-95 and the Delaware River.  The airport has seven terminal buildings with 126 boarding gates encompassing over 3.2 million square feet of space.  In addition, PHL has 6 cargo facilities totaling roughly 500,000 square feet of area.  PHL has 25 carriers operating over 400 departures daily to 124 different cities including 33 international destinations.  In 2016, PHL had over 394,000 total plane movements.  The airport ranks 19th in the United States in terms of total passenger enplanements and 18th in total cargo (Philadelphia International Airport, 2017e).


Not unlike many major airports, PHL is a multi-level facility with arrivals funneled through the ground floor of the main terminal and departures welcomed through the second floor.  Vehicle traffic into the airport is routed from I-95 with dedicated airport ramps for arrivals and departures.  There is also a regional rail line that runs every 30 minutes to four different stops serving the terminals of the airport.  Each of the seven terminals has security screening checkpoints then branches off into a pier finger style system.  The international terminal, Terminal A-West, also includes a very large Customs and Border Protection facility for arriving passengers.  Each of the terminals features retail shops, restaurants, coffee shops, various lounges, and even a hotel located close to the baggage claim area (Philadelphia International Airport, 2017g).

Figure 3. Terminal Map. Adapted from Philadelphia International Airport, 2017, Retrieved from https://www.phl.org/Documents/Passengerinfo/Brochures/InfoGuide.pdf

Figure 3. Terminal Map. Adapted from Philadelphia International Airport, 2017, Retrieved from https://www.phl.org/Documents/Passengerinfo/Brochures/InfoGuide.pdf

Unfortunately, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has identified PHL as a contributor to National Airspace System (NAS) delays, with its average delay per operation at ten minutes or more.  This is due largely in part to the close proximity of PHLs runways, and the delay is forecasted to increase to 20 minutes or more by 2025.  This has earned PHL the title of congested airport.  However, the FAA has approved several enhancements to the airport to be fully implemented by 2025.  These enhancements include an extension of two of the existing runways, and the addition of another parallel runway allowing simultaneous operations in poor weather conditions.  As for the terminals, an upgrade and reconfiguration has been approved for the oldest terminals, B, C, D, E, and F.  Additionally, there will be the construction of a new Terminal G and a commuter terminal.  With the addition of the new terminal and the reconstruction of the old, an Automated Passenger Movement (APM) system will be constructed to carry passengers between terminals and parking facilities.  Finally, an enlargement of the parking garages A, C, and D will help to alleviate the current congestion problem (Federal Aviation Administration, 2010).

With PHL being one of the most delay-prone airports in the country, it’s no surprise that the airport is seeking enhancement of its facilities.  The type of enhancement program will help to accommodate future demand at PHL during all weather conditions.  In turn, PHL should be able to reduce the total delays and costs associated, as well as the delays that it causes throughout the NAS (Federal Aviation Administration, 2010).

Section 4: Landside Operations

PHL is connected to the city of Philadelphia and the surrounding areas in just about every way.  The airport offers bicycle access and parking, several parking garages and lots, public transportation via bus and rail, rental car facilities, and taxi and limousine service.  With its unique location and many heavily populated surrounding areas, PHL has made every effort to accommodate passengers for just about any type of ground transportation available today.

Less than ten miles from the center of the city, PHL is accessible by bicycle via Philadelphia’s many “bicycle friendly” roadways and trails.  Because of this, PHL has made bicycle parking available, offering several racks at locations throughout the terminal complex for both passengers and employees.  Both passengers and employees can use bicycle racks at Terminal A-West, Terminal B-C, and Terminal D-E which is adjacent to the rail station.  In addition, airport employees can use bicycle racks near the employee shuttle stop across I-95 from the airport grounds (Philadelphia International Airport, 2017c).

PHL’s location from the city also makes it easily accessible via vehicle transportation and rail.  Philadelphia is connected to PHL by a short trip on I-95.  The airport is also easily accessible from the west via I-76.  For out-of-state travelers, the airport is just a short trip from anywhere along the New Jersey Turnpike via the Walt Whitman Bridge.  PHL is also a favorite for passengers from Delaware due to the close proximity and lack of commercial service in the state of Delaware.  Delaware is easily connected via I-95 from Wilmington (Philadelphia International Airport, 2017g).

Figure 4. Road Access. Adapted from Philadelphia International Airport, 2017, Retrieved from https://www.phl.org/Documents/Passengerinfo/Brochures/InfoGuide.pdf

Aside from road transportation, PHL offers high-speed rail service via the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA).  The SEPTA connects Center City to the airport with its Airport Regional Rail Line with a train running every 30 minutes.  The SEPTA also provides rail service to connect to the Amtrak Northeast Corridor, Keystone Service, and New Jersey Transit Atlantic City Rail Line.  The train offers stops at each terminal.  In addition, the SEPTA runs three bus routes for the airport (Philadelphia International Airport, 2017i).

Managed by the Philadelphia Parking Authority, PHL offers on-site parking garages adjacent to each terminal.  Additionally, PHL offers economy parking off-site with complimentary shuttle busses running 24 hours a day.  The service also includes minor vehicle repairs such as jump starts, tire changes, lockout, and lost vehicle help.  This area is also patrolled regularly by the Philadelphia Police Department.  Adapting to today’s passenger needs, PHL now offers charging stations for 14 electric vehicles throughout the different parking facilities (Philadelphia International Airport, 2017f).

Like most airports, PHL offers rental car services from the seven major rental car agencies.  The agencies can be accessed easily next to the baggage claim area and passengers can be shuttled to the rental car facilities quickly.  Additionally, passengers can utilize the easy access limousine and taxi service available outside of each terminal (Philadelphia International Airport, 2017g).

Unless passengers are only connecting at PHL, they all will utilize some type of ground transportation service offered by the airport.  PHL has done an outstanding job of making ground transportation easily accessible for customers, whether through private vehicles or on the many public transportation options available.  PHL has continued expansion of their parking garages for quite some time and will have to continue expansion as the airport takes on more passengers in the future.  However, the current structure of the ground transportation system is well suited for the near future and attracts many customers looking for that convenience.

A well-functioning transportation system is a vital part of any region’s economy.  Transportation allows the movement of goods and services between cities and communities.  Movement of goods and services is beneficial to the residents of cities and communities.  Throughout the first years of transportation, this principle was carried out using land and sea transportation.  With the rise of aviation over the last century, airplanes have become key to the transportation of these goods and services making the airports that accommodate them huge economic hubs in their respective regions (Young & Wells, 2011).

Section 5: Economic, Political, and Social Role

Airports and the related services involved in the operations in and around an airport represent major sources of employment in a community.  The wages of the employees involved in these services have a direct effect on the local economy by providing employees with a way to purchase goods and services, and also by providing tax revenue.  In the case of PHL, the largest portion of government funds is attributed to wage taxes.  PHL is a significant revenue generator for both the state and local government.  The airport estimates that 96,000 jobs are attributed to the airport and related industries, reaching a total economic impact of over $15.4 billion annually (Econsult Solutions, 2017).

PHL is the only major airport serving the metropolitan area of Philadelphia and is one of the most economically productive airports in the country.  The airport is self-sustaining, operating independently of state and local tax dollars.  PHL offers 500 daily departures to over 120 destinations throughout the world.  The airport is less than 10 miles to downtown and can be accessed via highway or rail (Econsult Solutions, 2017).

Economic impact is not only generated through the income of the airport’s employees.  The airport is able to stimulate the economy through the use of local services throughout the region.  These services include cargo, food catering, ground transportation, fuel, supply, and many other vendors.  PHL estimates that 90 percent of its vendors are located in the Philadelphia region itself.  This region includes 11 counties in four different states due to travel time to and from the airport and the availability of other airports throughout the region.  With all of the revenue through state and local taxes generated by this amount of economic activity, Philadelphia continues to improve the airport and surrounding transportation system (Econsult Solutions, 2017).

Large airports drive economic activity in many ways.  Airports are initiators of capital investments and are huge transportation service providers.  However, airports also have a number of related industries that would not exist without the airport such as ground transportation, hospitality, and retail.  Large airports such as PHL can also profit from tourism and convention business.  This means substantial revenues for hotels, restaurants, rental cars, and other local transportation not only near the airport, but also downtown, and surrounding areas in the region.  PHL serves more than 30 million passengers annually and over 82,000 customers a day.  These passengers travel for business, tourism, and a variety of other reasons (Econsult Solutions, 2017).

Because of their size and public use, airports are like cities in their own right.  PHL is no different.  PHL manages operations between the city, air carriers, ground transportation, and the passengers.  This means that airports have a unique impact on the quality of life in the region.  Airports can make an area an appealing place to live, work, and visit.  PHL takes great care to make sure that transportation to downtown and throughout the region is the best it can be.  The airport’s system of placing the passenger needs first has helped to improve the overall social and economic impact of the region.  Customer service is prioritized to ensure passenger travel is as pleasant as possible.  This is important because airports often represent the first and last impression for out of town visitors (Econsult Solutions, 2017).

Although owned by the city of Philadelphia, PHL is operated independently much like any large corporation.  The leadership of PHL appears the same as major corporations with a Chief Executive Officer leading a team of other officers to run the airport.  The airport does not use local or state tax dollars to operate.  The largest funding source for the capital improvement projects are the airlines.  The airport also collects user fees also called Passenger Facility Charges (PFC).  An additional source of income for PHL is the operating revenue that comes from rents and fees paid from landing fees to rent paid by concessionaires (Econsult Solutions, 2017).

Like many large airports, PHL has a significant environmental impact.  PHL and its partners are committed to reducing environmental impact in any way possible.  The City of Philadelphia, Division of Aviation works with PHL and surrounding airports to reduce the effects of noise whenever possible.  The airport noise office monitors noise levels at the airport and throughout the regions to work with airlines and other operators, as well as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to minimize the impact of aircraft noise (Philadelphia International Airport, 2017b).

Airports also play a social role in the community.  PHL is no different.  The airport is committed to the safety of its passengers and conducts exercises with local public service and law enforcement agencies to make sure the airport is prepared for accidents, attacks, or natural disasters.  Also, as a gesture to the local community, the airport offers year-round educational tours to groups.  This type of community involvement for an airport is crucial to winning the hearts and minds of the surrounding residents.  Airports impact many people; it’s important that they take an active role in the surrounding community (Philadelphia International Airport, 2017a).

Section 6: Capacity, Current and Future

PHL has managed to keep up with passenger and airline demand over the years pretty well; however not without cost.  The FAA has identified PHL for some years now as a key contributor to delays throughout the National Airspace System (NAS).  Since 2000, the City of Philadelphia has worked closely with airport officials to prepare a Master Plan update to ensure that PHL is ready to meet future demands from airlines and passengers (Federal Aviation Administration, 2010).

During the course of study to improve the Master Plan, a specific focus was placed on the cause for delays at the airport.  Several studies were conducted including examining forecasted passenger and operation levels measured against the current capacity of the existing airport facilities.  The results concluded that PHL’s delays would continue to increase from the average 10-minute delay in 2003, to over 19 minutes by 2019.  This is very significant because once an average of 20 minutes is reached, passengers and airlines will begin to decrease use of the airport.  Simulation studies concluded that, without enhancement, the critical 20-minute delay point would be reached by 2025.  As a result, a capacity enhancement program was submitted and later approved by the FAA that would increase the capacity of PHL, thereby reducing delays (Federal Aviation Administration, 2010).

The biggest contributing factor to the average delay time at PHL is the inadequate airfield capacity during poor meteorological conditions.  The airfield suffers most during periods of decreased visibility due to less than ideal spacing between runways and limited runway length causing the inability to conduct simultaneous operations (Federal Aviation Administration, 2010).

In order to address the issues causing delays at PHL, the city and the FAA worked in close coordination to develop a solution.  The major enhancements included in the program will be an extension of Runway 8-26 by 2,000 feet to the east including an Engineered Materials Arresting System (EMAS).  An extension of Runway 9R-27L (renamed to 9C-27C) to the east by 1,500 feet was also approved making the total length 12,000 feet.  Finally, a new Runway 9R-27L would be constructed just 1,600 feet south of the renamed center runway.  The new runway will be 9,100 feet and will also include an EMAS.  All of the runways will require improved taxiways to accommodate operations (Federal Aviation Administration, 2010).

In addition to runway construction, the airport plans to make several enhancements to improve the overall passenger capacity.  These enhancements include upgrades to the existing terminal complexes including reconstruction of Terminal B/C and F and the expansion of Terminals D and E.  A new Terminal G will also be constructed.  In addition, there are plans to enlarge the existing parking garages and construct a new ground transportation center.  Finally, the smooth the flow of passengers throughout the airport, plans for a new Automated People Mover (APM) were also approved (Federal Aviation Administration, 2010).

In addition to runways and passenger accommodation facilities, several support facilities are also in the plans to be replaced or updated, including a new Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower.  In addition, these new improved would require enhancements to roads in and around the airport and upgrades to cargo facilities (Federal Aviation Administration, 2010).

These plans are major and involve several separate projects that will take place over a 13-year period, but will vastly improve operations at PHL.  The runway projects will accommodate simultaneous operations in periods of reduced visibility, and the terminal enhancements will accommodate increased passenger traffic and smooth the passenger processing times throughout the airport.  With these enhancements, PHL will be able to fix the delay problem and accommodate increased traffic for years to come (Federal Aviation Administration, 2010).

Section 7: Conclusion

As airports grow, they become bigger and bigger economic, political, and social contributors to the surrounding region.  Airports that are successful in these areas can be extremely positive contributors to the stability of the region.  On the other hand, if airport managers fail to recognize their role and impact that it has, the airport can cripple the region’s economy and overall appeal to local residents.  It should be the goal of every airport to put the passengers and surrounding community residents as a top priority in everyday operations.

That is precisely what PHL is doing.  In a recent interview with PHL’s CEO, Rochelle Cameron, she stated that the airport is focused on improving customer service.  PHL’s delay problem mentioned earlier has improved slightly over the last couple of years due to decreased passenger traffic, so the airport is putting off runway expansion projects for now and focusing their efforts on the customer.  Cameron said that they are focusing on the “passenger experience” improving everything from air conditioning to escalators.  They are replacing jet bridges and renovating bathrooms (Loyd, 2016).

PHL is in continuous conversation with the airlines to focus on “what comes next.”  (Loyd, 2016)  They are focused on customer satisfaction at PHL, but they are ready to do whatever it takes to make PHL a successful airport.  PHL is not skipping any steps in the airport management process.  They are also looking at environmental sustainability and their regional economic impact.  Finally, with PHL’s mission of “proudly connecting Philadelphia with the world” and their vision of “a World-class global gateway of choice,” they have just what it takes to keep the airport booming into the next couple of decades (Philadelphia International Airport, 2017a).

References

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Federal Aviation Administration. (2010). Record of decision for capacity enhancement program at Philadelphia international airport. Retrieved on 9 September 2017 from https://www.faa.gov/airports/environmental/records_decision/phl/media/rod_phl_201012.pdf

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Loyd, L. (2016). With a new CEO, Philly airport resets priorities. Retrieved on 23 September 2017 from http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20160307_With_a_new_CEO__Phila__airport_resets_priorities.html

Philadelphia International Airport. (2017a). About us. Retrieved on 18 August 2017 from http://www.phl.org/Pages/AboutPHL/AboutPHLDefault.aspx

Philadelphia International Airport. (2017b). Airport noise office. Retrieved on 17 September 2017  from http://www.phl.org/Pages/Ourcommunity/Noiseoffice/noiseoffice.aspx

Philadelphia International Airport. (2017c). Bicycle access and parking. Retrieved on 13 September 2017 from http://www.phl.org/Pages/Passengerinfo/Directionsparking/Bicycle.aspx

Philadelphia International Airport. (2017d). History of PHL. Retrieved on 18 August 2017 from http://www.phl.org/Pages/AboutPHL/History/history_default.aspx

Philadelphia International Airport. (2017e). News. Retrieved on 9 September 2017 from https://www.phl.org/Pages/AboutPHL/News.aspx

Philadelphia International Airport. (2017f). Parking garages. Retrieved on 13 September 2017 from http://www.phl.org/Pages/passengerinfo/directionsparking/parkingGarages.aspx

Philadelphia International Airport. (2017g). Passenger information guide. Retrieved on 9 September 2017 from https://www.phl.org/Documents/Passengerinfo/Brochures/InfoGuide.pdf

Philadelphia International Airport. (2017h). PHL cargo. Retrieved on 6 September 2017 from https://www.phl.org/Pages/Business/PHLCargo/cargo_default.aspx

Philadelphia International Airport. (2017i). Public transit. Retrieved on 13 September 2017 from http://www.phl.org/Pages/passengerinfo/transportationservices/cct_connect.aspx

Weiss, H. (2015). Philadelphia international airport plans for new $200M air traffic control tower. Retrieved on 6 September 2017 from http://www.phillymag.com/business/2017/05/17/philadelphia-international-airport-new-air-traffic-control-tower/

Young, S. B., & Wells, A. T. (2011). Airport planning and management (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

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