For this decade, the Airport has been committed to focusing on projects designed to improve the customer experience, lay the groundwork for future development and capitalize on the role that the Airport plays as a regional economic engine. PHL also has a keen interest in welcoming new carriers and routes, giving passengers more choices and destinations in their travels either originating from Philadelphia or connecting through PHL.
A $45 million Terminal E expansion opened in 2010, featuring seven new aircraft gates, a 500-seat waiting area, a mini-food court, a high bay ceiling filtering in natural lighting and new permanent artwork. Also in 2010, the D/E baggage claim project opened, complete with two new carousels and new restroom facilities.
In 2011, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a Record of Decision (ROD) approving the Airport’s Capacity Enhancement Program (CEP), a multi-billion program with the purpose of enhancing airfield capacity to address delays at the Airport. At that time, the Airport had been long identified by the FAA as one of the airports contributing to delays throughout the National Airspace System (NAS). The CEP was based on the Airport’s Master Plan and included projects addressing runway length, airfield geometry, runway capacity, in addition to expansion and reconfiguration of the existing terminal complex.
Also in 2011, the FAA awarded a $466.5 million Letter of Intent (LOI) to provide some funding for airfield elements of the CEP. From 2007 through 2017, improvements to air traffic control were implemented by FAA, and some airfield improvements were completed by the Airport. These improvements, in conjunction with a decrease in operational activity during this same period (due in part to airline changes to their aircraft fleets and increase to average seats per operation), resulted in reduced aircraft movements and a reduction in delays at the Airport. As a result, the Airport and Airlines priorities shifted from airfield capacity and delay projects, such as a new runway, and focused instead on the terminal, gate capacity, landside, and cargo development. Additionally, airfield improvement priorities were reassessed by the Airlines, Airport and the FAA.
In 2017, the Airport and the FAA agreed to close the LOI, which resulted in the suspension of FAA’s Record of Decision and a formal closure notice posted by FAA in the Federal Register in October 2017. This closure allows the Airport to focus FAA Entitlement and future Discretionary Grant funding for other airfield improvements rather than projects associated with the new runway. The Airport Master Plan, which includes the new runway project, is still valid and the Airport intends to preserve the ability to construct the new runway and other projects when operational needs warrant it.
The shift in capital priorities to terminal, landside, and cargo development along with reprioritized airfield improvements, has resulted in the Airport implementing a revised capital plan that incorporates elements identified in the Master Plan in addition to near-term capital facility needs, including on-going rehabilitation and repair projects.
Additional infrastructure improvements have continued throughout the 2010’s. In 2013, the newly redesigned Terminal F Hub opened featuring 20 new food, beverage and retail shops, a 300-seat food court area, fascinating new permanent artwork and an enhanced bus shelter. In 2015, the E-F Secure Connector opened, enabling passengers to access all terminals and gates from the post-Security side. And in 2016, the new Terminal F Baggage Claim Building opened, completing the $127 million Terminal F renovation and expansion project; the $35 million baggage claim facility is the first LEED Gold project at the airport.>
PHL continues to evaluate its capacity needs in a changing economic climate. In 2017, PHL and hub carrier American Airlines announced a $900 million commitment to continue critical improvements and develop new infrastructure at PHL Airport and Philadelphia Northeast Airport (PNE) over the next 5-to-7 years. This Capital Development Project (CDP) promises to deliver needed improvements to the facility and represents a unique growth opportunity for Philadelphia’s businesses and workforce. The on-going projects will generate almost $4 billion in regional economic output over a 5-year period, which equates to approximately 5,100 on-going jobs over the same 5-year period.
Other highlights include the 2011 dedication of the How Philly Moves mural by the Airport and the City’s Mural Arts Program. The mural, which is among the largest completed in the United States and occupies the largest square footage of any project completed by the City’s Mural Arts Program, celebrates Philadelphia’s longstanding dance traditions with images 26 dancers representing a variety of dance styles on the façade of the Airport’s parking garages.
PHL continues to welcome new carriers and routes to its service. In 2012, Virgin America began serving PHL with daily nonstop flights to the West Coast. Virgin was the first new airline to start service at PHL in eight years. Over the next six years, additional airlines began serving PHL with daily and seasonal flights, including Alaska Airlines, Frontier, Spirit Airlines, and JetBlue. In 2014, Qatar Airways became the first foreign flag carrier in more than a decade to begin service when it launched daily non-stop service to Doha. Icelandair launched seasonal service in May 2017, and Aer Lingus began non-stop flights to Dublin in March 2018.
As of December 2018, PHL offers nearly 450 daily non-stop flights to 99 domestic and 38 international destinations.
When it first opened in 1940, Philadelphia Municipal Airport transported more than 40,000 passengers. Today, PHL has grown exponentially, serving 31 million passengers annually from the Philadelphia region and beyond. A combination of airline mergers (most notably, between American Airlines and US Airways) and the aviation industry's modernization trend of using larger aircraft has shifted traffic at PHL; current operations stand at 379,665 takeoffs and landings.