Working Strategically to Generate Revenue: A Conversation with PHL Deputy Chief Revenue Officer Adam Mitchell

The first thing you notice about PHL Deputy Chief Revenue Officer Adam Mitchell is his charismatic smile and calm professional demeanor.   

This demeanor is useful while supporting PHL Chief Revenue Officer Jim Tyrrell in overseeing the airport's revenue portfolio, which has expanded over the past 24 months and includes Property Management, Business Development, Air Service Development, Marketing and Branding and Guest Experience. Mitchell works with his colleagues on the Revenue team to administer tenant leasing programs and concessions programs such as food, beverage and retail; ground transportation; advertising; WiFi; commercial real estate; and pursuing new business development opportunities for amenities and service facilities.  

Mitchell and his colleagues work to strategically execute the PHL leadership team’s vision for how to effectively grow the airport’s business, including reducing the operating cost for airlines, which subsidize a major portion of the airport’s operating and capital expenses.  

"A requirement of our residual agreement with the airlines is nonaeronautical revenue from concessions and other programs is applied to offset our costs, which reduces the fees airlines pay PHL to use the airport. In exchange, the airlines agree to fund any remaining shortfall needed to cover airport operating costs, which requires ongoing consultation and planning,” said Mitchell. 

Mitchell also works with PHL Food & Shops to ensure that amenities passengers seek are available and that federal regulations regarding the participation of women, minority and locally owned businesses are reflected in the PHL Food & Shops offerings. “We want our guests to experience a sense of Philadelphia when they come through PHL, whether they visit La Colombe or Yards Brewery. We want guests to get an authentic taste and glimpse of the city,” said Mitchell.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has had a deleterious impact on travel and small businesses that operate at the airport, the Revenue team has found it hard to enforce some of the existing terms and agreements. The market environment does not support the business models under which most of those agreements were originally developed.  

“We were very proactive to offer deferrals of rental obligations for three months for commercial airlines and eligible tenants that operate in our terminals. For some concessions, we were able to waive minimum annual guarantee requirements,” said Mitchell. “This allowed businesses to operate at a break even in the present environment so that they could remain viable until the market begins to heal.”  

Through the leadership of Mitchell’s team member, PHL Director of Air Service Development and Cargo Services Stephanie Wear, the airport was able to develop the COVID-19 Air Service Recovery and Incentive Program (CASRIP).  “We were the first airport with a new airline incentive program specifically tailored to recover air service lost to coronavirus restrictions, especially international service,” said Mitchell.  

While the airport lost money from commercial flights activity and food, beverage, and retail - cargo flourished. Cargo including freight and airmail at PHL trended up 4% from the previous calendar year.  

“Cargo has become a huge focal point throughout the COVID-19 crisis, specifically shipping of e-commerce purchases, PPE, pharmaceuticals and the COVID–19 vaccine," said Mitchell. “In CASRIP, we incorporated new incentives related to cargo. We are also working with developers to address the need of a cold storage neutral facility, which is necessary for vaccine warehousing and distribution and storage of other pharmaceutical products.” 

Mitchell, who has been an employee of the City of Philadelphia for ten years, graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Master of Science degree in Community Economic Development with a specialization in non-profit management. His goal was to work in community development with a focus on education and at-risk youth. One of his first professional jobs was program coordinator for at-risk youth in Southwest Philadelphia, coincidently just down the street from the airport.

With his conflict transformation and peace building skills, Mitchell moved to Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, and helped lead a community-based school primarily serving second-generation Palestinian Americans. In 2011, he returned to Philadelphia to be closer to family. After several years of nonprofit work, Mitchell’s passion for community led him to apply to a public service opportunity with the City of Philadelphia.  

Mitchell was a civil servant, matriculating from the management trainee level, through the human resource professional occupational series to Senior Human Resource Analyst. He administered civil service examinations and performed various human resources functions for City personnel, including the candidate selection process, job classification, and compensation. After taking a city-wide promotional test for Executive Assistant, Mitchell landed at PHL, working for Tyrrell.

“Through Jim’s mentorship and by mirroring him, I became familiar with PHL’s revenue portfolio and was exposed to the various complexities of administering the aeronautical and non-aeronautical revenue programs,” said Mitchell. After thorough training and learning, Mitchell was later promoted to his current position.  

Mitchell understands that the future of the aviation industry relies on safety, passenger satisfaction, and the ability of businesses to bounce back after the pandemic.  

“I hope over the next five years we see the full execution of the marketing plan that our Marketing and Branding Director Kate Sullivan developed,” said Mitchell. “I think it is a great way to increase engagement across our catchment area and will lead to guests selecting PHL as their airport of choice. Ideally we’d also like to maximize our nonstop international connectivity not only to Europe, but also to tier one business centers in Asia, Latin America and Africa.”  

PHL’s mission is to connect Philadelphia with the world in a way that makes viable business sense for all parties involved. New facility development, particularly those for aircraft maintenance and cargo, will attract major business partners making a long-term commitment and investment in the Philadelphia market.  

Mitchell would like to see the PHL community incorporate a broader economic development vision for neighborhoods that are immediately adjacent to the airport, such as Tinicum Township, Delaware County. and Eastwick in Southwest Philadelphia.  

Within five to ten years Mitchell would love to see a lot of substantial professional growth for his talented young team members. “I’m seeing a positive sense of investment from PHL team members overall and colleagues really feeling like the airport is an affirming and empowering place to engage in a career of public service,” said Mitchell. 

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Media Contacts

Heather Redfern
Public Affairs Manager
215-600-6105
heather.redfern@phl.org
Shawn Hawes
Public Information Officer
215-490-6465
shawn.hawes@phl.org

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