Capacity Enhancement Program

Philadelphia International Airport Capacity Enhancement Program 

In 1999, Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) began a Master Plan process to evaluate the Airport’s future facility needs relative to forecasted passenger and operational demand, and the corresponding capacity of the facility to accommodate this projected activity efficiently and safely. In 2002, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began a 7-year review process to address the potential environmental impacts associated with the Master Plan, commonly referred to as the Capacity Enhancement Program.

Philadelphia International Airport is one of the busiest in the United States in aircraft operations with 432,884 takeoffs and landings in 2013. The Airport also accommodated 30.5 million passengers in 2013.

In August 2010, the FAA issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) to address potential environmental impacts associated with Philadelphia International Airport’s Capacity Enhancement Program (CEP). The FEIS explored a variety of alternatives to address the issue of chronic delays at PHL as well as ensure that the Airport is prepared to meet forecasted demands in air service and passenger capacity. The FEIS contains a purpose and need for the CEP, a detailed description of the alternatives and evaluates their impacts to the environment.

A Record of Decision on the CEP has been issued by the FAA. To view the Record of Decision, visit:

      Philadelphia International Airport Statement on the FAA Record of Decision

A 10-year planning process and a thorough 7-year environmental review process culminated with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issuing the Record of Decision (ROD) approving the Airport's Capacity Enhancement Program (CEP). Receipt of this final document enables the Airport to proceed with the next steps required to expand and make critically needed improvements that ensures Philadelphia International Airport is strategically positioned to meet future air service demands, enhance its competitive stature in the global aviation market place and maintain the region's economic vitality.

Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is currently the 11th busiest airport in the world and the 9th busiest in the United States in aircraft operations. However, with a relatively inefficient airfield configuration coupled with being located in the most heavily traveled air space corridor in the country, PHL has been historically impacted by congestion and delays. In 2009, PHL was ranked as the 4th most delayed airport in the country. According to an FAA-commissioned study that was released in October 2010, the annual cost of airline delays nationally is $33 billion.

The implementation of the CEP will address the significant airfield congestion problems documented by the FAA in the CEP.  The preferred alternative as selected by the FAA, “Alternative A,” provides for a new runway, which will allow independent simultaneous aircraft operations in all weather conditions, to significantly reduce delays.  The CEP also calls for two (2) runway extensions, one of which will provide the necessary runway length to accommodate non-stop, long haul flights to reach around the world. New terminals, new cargo facilities and an automated people mover system are also included in this alternative.

“Philadelphia International Airport is the economic engine for all of Southeastern Pennsylvania,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter.  “This expansion program is critical to the economic health and growth of our entire region and will create thousands of jobs.  The fact that this entire process took a decade to complete underscores its thoroughness in carefully exploring all the alternatives.  The City and the leadership of Philadelphia International Airport look forward to collaborating with all of our stakeholders to bringing about the implementation of the CEP.”

“The CEP will not only create tens of thousands of construction jobs over a 12-year period, it will provide for the creation of several thousand permanent jobs as the Airport expands,” said Rina Cutler, Deputy Mayor, Transportation & Utilities. “Moreover, Airport expansion and growth will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue for the region.”

“The CEP is extremely important in order to not only adequately address the problem of chronic delays that have impacted PHL for a prolonged period of time, but also provide needed capacity for future demand. Over the past 40 years, total number of passengers using PHL has grown at an average of 4.1% a year, from 6.6 million in 1971 to 30.7 million in 2009.  In 2030, just twenty years from now, the Airport is forecasted to accommodate more than 52 million passengers and 760,000 takeoffs and landings,” said Airport CEO Mark Gale. “The Capacity Enhancement Program is vital to ensuring that Philadelphia International Airport is strategically positioned to effectively handle anticipated growth in traffic and attract additional air service. Not proceeding with the CEP is a move our region cannot afford to make.”

It is important to note that the CEP is significant not only to Philadelphia but to the entire national airspace system. The FAA has identified PHL as a “pacing” airport, meaning that flight delays here have a domino effect across the country. These delays impose substantial costs in the time and money for passengers and airlines, cargo shippers and for other users of the air transportation system.”

The Capacity Enhancement Program is supported by the regional business and tourism communities including the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau and Select Greater Philadelphia, which recognize the importance of a viable, major international airport to a region’s economic stability in the global marketplace. 

Final Environmental Impact Statement issued by the Federal Aviation Administration, August 2010.

Total Delay Impact Study released October 2010. Conducted by National Center of Excellence for   Aviation Operations Research (NEXTOR) and commissioned by the FAA.

A Record of Decision on the CEP has been issued by the FAA. To view the Record of Decision, visit:

For additional information about Philadelphia International Airport Capacity Enhancement Program please visit .