US Airways’ opposition to Philadelphia’s fifth runway is unchanged

Washington DC
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US Airways is not wavering in its long-held belief that a fifth runway at its Philadelphia hub is unnecessary.

The US Federal Aviation Administration in January of last year approved the $5.2 billion expansion project that entails lengthening two runways and building a fifth runway at the Philadelphia International airport. In late 2011 reports surfaced in the local Philadelphia press indicating the costs would reach $6 billion.

Previously US Airways, which is the airport's largest carrier, has said it estimates cost for the expansion at closer to $9 billion.

US Airways' ire has been rekindled as The Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting the US Federal Aviation Administration has dismissed a request from the airline to re-examine the cost-benefit analysis of the plan.

The newspaper is also reporting the city of Philadelphia wants airlines to sign a 15-year lease to cover the cost of constructing the new runway.

In April of last year US Airways estimated the fifth runway would cost cost $2-$3 billion, making it "the most expensive runway built outside of Japan".

In its regular employee update issued this week US Airways stressed to staff: "There may be a time in the future when demand at PHL [Philadelphia] has grown to the point that a new runway is necessary and affordable. But that time has not yet arrived."

US Airways in September of 2010 when revealing seasonal flights from its Charlotte hub to Dublin and Madrid cited the maturity of the Philadelphia hub, noting there was less room for growth in Philadelphia.

Data from US Airways indicate Charlotte is the carrier's largest hub in terms of daily flights, and both Charlotte and Philadelphia each serve 27 international destinations nonstop.

US Airways has said it sees many positive attributes in Philadelphia's expansion plan, including improvements in passenger facilities and checkpoints.