I lived in Houston for five years, and between IAH and Hobby I had a variety of airlines to choose from when I wanted to travel. Since then, I moved to Philadelphia, an airport dominated by American Airlines to a great extent. Although I am usually a loyal American flyer, my loyalty has recently been put to the test by American’s continuing poor performance (as a stock and as an airline). In order to boost up competition in the Philadelphia market, more airlines should fly to PHL. I have always wondered why there aren’t more airlines at/near Philadelphia. It is the 4th largest economic metropolitan area in the United States (with a GDP of over $330 billion). It has the 3rd highest GDP per capita of any of the largest metropolitan areas of the world (as of 2009). So, as much as it baffles me why PHL is so underserved, there are some routes that I would love to see operate either seasonally or year round.
Delta Airlines Routes
The primary route I would like to see Delta begin flying to/from Philadelphia is LAX. The airline has a solid network out of LAX, and there is a lot of potential to disrupt American’s monopoly on the route. They could fly the route with a non-premium 737, which is nicer than American’s A321s that fly most schedules on that route.
A second route I would like to the Delta begin flying out of Philly is Seattle. Seattle is one of the largest economic zones in the United States. There is a Boeing plant about 10 minutes from PHL airport. Although Alaska and American both fly this route, Delta offers the strongest international connections out of SEA.
Southwest offers a sizeable number of routes out of PHL, the main problem is the number of frequencies is not very high. Beyond increasing some frequencies to cities such as Dallas Love Field and Houston Hobby, the airline should venture to launch flights from the West Coast. I would love to see flights from Las Vegas on Southwest year round, as well as from California. Ideally, they would launch flights to/from Oakland.
Alaska Airlines Routes
Alaska is the largest airline in California. In order to better connect passengers from the PHL area to California, they should increase flights from LAX and SFO, as well as add new destinations. I think they could make a daily flight from San Jose (SJC) work daily, and a seasonal flight from San Diego.
Although I believe there is a market for PHL-JFK flights, I don’t think that JetBlue is the ideal candidate for that route, that’s why I think that their best bet is to fly from Orlando to PHL. The airline has a hub at MCO, and American seems to run a very profitable flight schedule to Orlando. In order to increase competition further (Southwest, Frontier and Spirit fly this route) JetBlue could launch a once daily flight on their ERJ-190s. The aircraft is small enough that it can likely be filled for the once daily turn.
I would like to preface this section that there are no carriers that I specifically want to see fly these routes. I feel that there is potential for these markets, but I do not have enough market data to clearly determine. This section is plainly wishful thinking, but I see merits to each route.
Munich → Flown by Lufthansa (American recently abandoned this route, Lufthansa could likely make it work with their fuel efficient A350s).
Madrid → Flown by Iberia
Amsterdam → Flown by KLM
Milan MXP → Flown by American
Tel Aviv → Flown by American or EL AL
Helsinki → Flown by Finnair
Middle East & Africa
Dubai→ Flown by Emirates (This would be a really controversial flight. American and the ME3 are in a heated dispute, and this would be striking American where it hurts, sort of. American does not fly to the Middle East from PHL, nor do they have any connections to the region.)
Casablanca→ Flown by American or Royal Air Maroc (only by the time RAM joins OneWorld).
Central & South America
São Paulo → Flown by American or LATAM
Buenos Aires → Flown by American or LATAM
Bogota→ Flown by Avianca
Panama City→ Flown by COPA
Tokyo→ Flown by American or JAL
Beijing→ Flown by China Southern
Hong Kong → Flown by Cathay Pacific on their A350-900
I will remain surprised that Philadelphia is not as well connected as other cities such as Dallas, Houston or Seattle. The economic zone in the Greater Philadelphia metropolitan area is substantially greater than in those three cities. Hopefully, we will see American add destinations in new regions, and foreign carriers begin to expand their presence here. Other domestic carriers have room to grow, and hopefully we will see that expansion manifest itself over the next few years.
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Economic Data from PwC Study (link here).