Getting to Know Our Director

apiMeet Api Appulingam, PHL’s Deputy Director of Aviation, Capital Development.

Api is a registered Professional Engineer (P.E.) and has over 15 years of experience in the aviation industry with several general aviation and commercial service airports in the U.S. and internationally.

Before joining the PHL family, Api served as the Philadelphia Office Leader for RS&H, Inc., a national provider of architecture, engineering and consulting services.

Api serves on the Philadelphia Chapter’s Executive Board for Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS), is the Diversity and Inclusion Committee Chair for the Northeast Chapter/American Association of Airport Executives (NEC/AAAE) and is a board member of the March of Dimes Transportation, Building and Construction Awards Luncheon.

In her free time Api enjoys exploring the world with her family. She has lived in five different countries and visited more than twenty-five. Api eagerly awaits announcements of new destinations from PHL to plan her trips. Casablanca is now on the top of her list!

Continue reading below to learn more about Api.


Welcome to the Division of Aviation, Api! 

We know you’re no stranger to working at PHL, but we were wondering, what do you enjoy most about working at the Airport?

What’s there not to love about working at an airport?! Every day is different, and I enjoy tackling the challenges that we face, small and large. I also love that I get to be a small part of someone’s journey – hopefully they have a positive experience that brings them back to PHL. 

Do you ever get the chance to go out on the airfield, or are you running the show from behind the scenes?

Of course, I go out on the airfield.  My first project at PHL was the design for Runway 27L Extension and Associated Taxiways - it has a very special place in my heart. I felt so proud the first time I taxied on one of the connector taxiways and took off on the extension.  Most recently, I got an up-close look at the ARFF [Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting] and training facilities – that was pretty impressive and cool!

What do you think are some of the larger challenges PHL faces?

That’s a good question. I think the biggest challenge that we are facing is capacity. Many other airports in the U.S. and around the world are facing the same challenge. We are tasked with coming up with creative solutions that are sustainable, enhance safety and comply with regulations – all the while allowing us to grow to meet demand.

What do you hope to accomplish within the next 3 to 5 years with Capital Development ?

I started thinking about this before I joined PHL. I look forward to executing the projects in our $2.4 billion Capital Program. There are lots of exciting projects happening at PHL and PNE and much, much more to come with a potential new use and lease agreement. To hear more about Api's plans for PHL's Capital Development, listen here

What one change are you looking to implement with Capital Development?

I am lucky to work with such a great group of people. Everyone is excited to come to work and give it their all. I am not necessarily looking to implement major changes but will certainly enhance the existing processes and support the team in any way that I can.

As a woman in a male dominated field, what advice would you give your younger self and women entering engineering and similar industries?

I would tell my younger self to keep doing what you are doing and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. I live by this motto: When one door closes another opens and if it doesn’t open then kick it down! One piece of advice I would give to women is to not be afraid of saying yes to an opportunity that comes your way, even if it’s challenging and unfamiliar. Every opportunity will help grow your talent and career and help you kick that door down!  

What are some of the key principals by which you live?

I believe being grateful and appreciative of what you have is an important principle to live by – both personally and professionally.  I am thankful for what I’ve achieved so far and will continue to pursue goals that take what I have achieved to the next level. Also, keeping a positive mindset through this journey is key and I try my very best to do that and surround myself with people that help me achieve those goals.

Have you tried out a cheesesteak at one of the airport eateries? ( Jim’s, Geno’s, Tony Luke’s ) And if you have, which is your favorite?

I haven’t. I’m a vegetarian so I’m still on the hunt for a vegan/vegetarian cheesesteak.  However, I’m a tea-aholic so you’ll usually find me ordering a large English breakfast tea at one of the La Colombes. Caffeine is my Jet-A!  

Thank you for taking the time to chat with us today! We hope you accomplish everything you’ve set out to do as the head of Capital Development. We wish you much success.