Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) welcomed more than 19.6 million passengers during calendar year 2021, an increase of almost 66 percent over 2020, when the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the aviation industry. PHL also saw continued cargo growth in 2021, handling 643,138 tons of air freight and air mail combined, up 3.2 percent from 2020.
“We are still a few years away from a full recovery from the pandemic, however, our passenger volume total from last year makes us optimistic as we start 2022,” said PHL CEO Chellie Cameron. “This year, our airline partners are expected to offer service to 91 domestic and 31 international destinations, including four Canadian, 13 transatlantic and 14 Caribbean/Mexican destinations. The airport will also be served by five foreign flag carriers for the first time since 2020: Air Canada, Aer Lingus, British Airways, Lufthansa and Qatar. With steady increases in the routes offered by our airline partners as the year progresses, we are excited to see even more guests in our terminals.”
PHL’s cargo activity growth comes as the airport is moving ahead with its cargo expansion program. Last June, PHL unveiled plans to increase its air cargo facility footprint by 136 acres and almost triple its cargo building square footage from 600,000 to 1.4 million. In December, the airport announced funding from the Federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will support cargo development.
“The continued increase in air freight and air mail handling at PHL year-over-year for the past several years shows why we must expand our cargo capacity now,” said Cameron. “The impact this program will have on our airport, our region’s workforce and our local economy is exponential. This is a-once-in-a-generation investment for our city and its surrounding counties.”
The City of Philadelphia’s Division of Aviation also owns and operates Northeast Philadelphia Airport (PNE), which saw a year of growth with 83,751 plane movements, a 46.2 percent increase over 2020 and a 10.4 percent increase over 2019. PNE is a general aviation airport, specializing in private transport and the recreational flying component of aviation, as well as the manufacturing or building process of those aircraft.
“The past two years have been unbelievably trying for the Division of Aviation and its partners, but we have persevered as a team,” said Cameron. “We must capitalize on the momentum of the past year as we move to put the pandemic behind us. I am incredibly proud of the dedication of the Division of Aviation staff and our stakeholders.”
PHL 2021 Highlights:
Total Plane Movements: 268,884 (+22.2% from 2020, -31.1% from 2019)
Domestic Passengers: 18,580,277 (+66.4% from 2020, -35.8% from 2019)
International Passengers: 1,058,110 (+50.9% from 2020, -74.1% from 2019)
Total Passengers: 19,638,387 (+65.5% from 2020, -40.5% from 2019)
Total Cargo: 643,138 tons (+3.2% from 2020, +5.9% from 2019)