Philadelphia International Airport sees sizable gain in passengers


Philadelphia International Airport  reported a sizable increase in the number of passengers in 2018. 

In 2018, 31,691,956 passengers passed through Philadelphia International Airport,  a 7.1 percent increase from the previous year and the highest since 2008 when PHL recorded 31.8 million passengers.

The growth outpaced rival Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall Airport, which reported  27.1 million passengers, up 2.9 percent from 2017.

Delaware business and leisure travelers fly out of both airports.

BWI’s all-time high for passenger traffic was 32.2 million set in the pre-recession year of 2007.

The Philadelphia airport is a key player in the region, with Delaware economic development and tourism officials quick to cite convenient access to the airport from the northern part of the state. A large number of Delawareans work at the airport, which is a short drive from Wilmington.

Since 2007,  US Airways merged with American, with with the combined carriers cutting service to some cities. Southwest also pulled back on short-haul service to New England and Pittsburgh after a battle with US Airways.

Last year,  the airport had 379,665 takeoffs and landings, 2.6 percent more than 2017 and the first percentage increase in aircraft operations since 2005.

The upswing in passengers and aircraft operations is largely due to the new air service added by carriers.


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American Airlines is the airport’s largest airline with more than 70 percent of passenger traffic added overseas and domestic routes.

 Frontier Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines launched non-stop flights to 27 destinations in 2018. In addition, PHL added Aer Lingus, its second new foreign flag carrier in as many years, with year-round service to Dublin.

Frontier moved its limited service from New Castle County Airport to Philadelphia and added flights from the airport to dozens of cities that typically run a few times a week.

In addition, 555,327 tons of cargo was handled at PHL, 20 percent more than the previous year, the largest percentage increase dating to 2001.

PHL also saw 4,246,171 international passengers – a 6 increase gain  from 2017 and the largest percentage increase since 17.1 percent in 2004.

The upswing was spurred by American’s new seasonal service to Budapest, Prague and year-round service to Zurich. The  Prague flight proved so popular that in 2019 American is upgrading the aircraft from a Boeing 767 to an Airbus 330-200 featuring Premium Economy and 500 more seats per week.

“Our airport team continues to work tirelessly with our airline, tourism and business partners to attract new air service whether it’s more flights to more cities by our established carriers or bringing in a new airline,” said Airport CEO Chellie Cameron. “Our 2018 numbers show how the team’s efforts produced real results. We are encouraged by the upswing in passengers, operations and cargo handling and are eager to maintain this positive trend.”

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