Philadelphia Airport accelerates efforts to establish direct flights with India, explores new routes, ET TravelWorld


<p>Edgar Antistenes Vesga-Arias Director, Air Service Development and Cargo Services, Philadelphia International Airport, Northeast Philadelphia Airport.</p>
Edgar Antistenes Vesga-Arias Director, Air Service Development and Cargo Services, Philadelphia International Airport, Northeast Philadelphia Airport.

In an exclusive interview with ET TravelWorld, Edgar Vesga, MPR, CMI, Director of Air Service Development and Cargo Services at Philadelphia International Airport delved into the airport’s recent growth trends, connectivity with India, and sustainability measures, shedding light on the strategies driving Philadelphia‘s aviation landscape.

Vesga highlighted Philadelphia International Airport’s (PHL) robust performance in 2023, recording a total passenger volume of 28.1 million, marking a significant 12.6 per cent increase from the previous year. Looking ahead to 2024, Vesga expressed optimism about the addition of four new international destinations served by American Airlines and numerous domestic routes by various carriers, reflecting the airport’s ongoing growth trajectory.

Connectivity with India
Addressing the growing ties between India and Philadelphia, Vesga emphasised the airport’s connectivity with India, underscoring the significant influx of passengers between Philadelphia’s catchment area and India. He noted that while over 190,000 passengers travelled between the two regions in 2023, only 34 per cent utilised PHL’s services. Vesga attributed Philadelphia’s appeal to the Indian market to its prominence in education and medicine, attracting a substantial number of international students and visitors.

“Philadelphia is considered the city of education and medicine, attracting a large number of international students from India and other countries,” he said.

Strategies for enhanced connectivity
Despite the absence of direct flights between Philadelphia and key Indian cities, Vesga outlined the airport’s strategic approach to enhance connectivity. Leveraging major connecting points like Doha, London, and Frankfurt, PHL aims to facilitate seamless travel for passengers bound to Indian destinations. Additionally, Vesga highlighted the airport’s incentives program designed to encourage airlines to establish routes to unserved and underserved destinations, including India.

“India is Philadelphia’s 3rd largest market for direct visitor spending and has consistently ranked in the top five markets for spend since data tracking began in 2000. Visitation from India was expected to increase by 26.4 per cent over the next five years (pre-Covid estimate).

There were 66,422 Total Annual O&D passengers (or 91 passengers daily each way – PDEW) flying out of PHL to/from India for the year ending October 2023. Close to 70 per cent of these passengers originated in Philadelphia while the remaining 30 per cent originated their trip in India,” Vesga said while sharing the information.

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Future initiatives and sustainability measures
Looking ahead, Vesga discussed the projected timeline for initiatives aimed at developing the Indian market, emphasising proactive collaborations with Indian partners and local communities to gather insights and support additional routes.

On the sustainability front, he outlined Philadelphia Airport‘s commitment to achieving Net Zero Carbon by 2050 and Zero Waste by 2035, detailing various initiatives such as emissions tracking, electrification of ground support equipment, and sustainable design requirements for capital projects.

Marketing campaigns and trade incentives
Regarding marketing campaigns tailored to Indian travellers, Vesga highlighted the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau‘s efforts to welcome media outlets and influencers to Philadelphia, aiming to position the city as a top destination. Furthermore, he discussed PHL’s Air Service Incentive Program, which offers waivers on landing fees and inclusion in destination marketing efforts to encourage new market development and expansion.

“We are also leveraging our incentives to encourage airlines to help us connect Philadelphians to the world. This program does support efforts to develop routes to unserved and underserved destinations at the domestic and international level like India,” he stated.

Philadelphia International Airport’s commitment to fostering growth, enhancing connectivity, and prioritising sustainability, underscoring the airport’s pivotal role in facilitating seamless travel experiences and promoting economic development in the region.

  • Published On Feb 29, 2024 at 04:40 PM IST

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