Inquirer airport and airline beat reporter Linda Loyd has an excellent and lengthy story today on a very rare occurrence at PHL: The city and US Airways are in sharp disagreement over whether to expand the airport's capacity to handle flights in bad weather with its now-10-year-old plan to build another long runway along the Delaware. There are strong arguments on both sides of this issue.The story illustrates how much of a symbiotic relationship major cities, Philadelphia in this case, have with major airlines.
When aviation was first developing in this country, most cities, Philly included, provided airlines what they needed in terms of airport capacity for little or no money. Some airports still do that but airlines and airports today mostly depend on each other for their economic lives. Philly needs the economic boost and prestige that comes from being an airline hub, with a large number of domestic and international flights to serve its business community (us leisure travelers just get to come along for the ride in the world of airline profits.) At the same time, US Airways (and other airlines in other hubs) depends on the city and the federal government to funnel taxpayers' money from airline ticket taxes, and the occasional bits of spare change in other federal funds, to the airport. The PHL vs. US Airways debate will go on for some time, so stand by for further developments.