Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer— and the kick-off of the summer vacation season. But with some travel restrictions still in place and many people tentative about flying, what will summer 2020 look like at PHL?
“Recent developments from our airline partners have made us cautiously optimistic as we move into June,” said Stephanie Wear, PHL’s Director of Air Service Development and Cargo.
Instead of cancelling routes, several airlines have added new service or re-instated flights to their PHL roster. Frontier announced 18 new nonstop routes at airports across the country, including three from PHL: Sarasota-Bradenton (Saturdays, beginning June 6); Myrtle Beach (Thursdays and Sundays beginning July 2) and Palm Beach (Mondays and Fridays beginning July 3). “Frontier is one of our biggest carriers at PHL,” said Wear. “Adding these routes from Philadelphia roster is a big vote of confidence in our market by Frontier and shows the airline’s commitment to making PHL one of its core airports.”
As summer progresses, PHL’s airline partners will continue to add flights to their weekly offerings. “Southwest had eight daily flights in May. In June they will have 12, and 14 in July,” said Wear. “Going beyond summer, by the end of the year they will have 22 daily flights from PHL. At its 2019 peak, they had 29.”
JetBlue, which had suspended its PHL service in May, is on schedule to be operating on July 1. Spirit is also expanding seat capacity, increasing service frequency to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando and reintroducing PHL- Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and San Juan flights. Passengers will also see American Airlines adding frequencies with Chicago, Miami and DFW service, and Delta Airlines increase flights to Atlanta and Minneapolis.
“In our early COVID-19 recovery discussions with the airlines, many said there could still be a travel season starting on a limited basis in June and ramping up in July and August, albeit at a higher level of travel within the domestic U.S. market,” said Wear. “The additions we are seeing now confirm those beliefs.”
Airlines are adding seats at PHL because there has been a recent uptick in passenger demand. In 2019, PHL averaged 90,00 passengers per day. Immediately following the implementation of travel restrictions and stay-at-home regulations passenger volume at PHL fell 90 percent, like that of other airports in the U.S. and around the world. “At the lowest point in April, we had about 1,200 passengers a day,” said Wear. “But for the Thursday and Friday of Memorial Day weekend, there were approximately 5,000-6,000 passengers a day, and American Airlines was estimating more than 4,000 passengers on its flights the weekend of May 29. That’s nowhere near the almost 45,000 departing travelers a day we averaged in 2019, but it’s a good sign that the country is becoming more comfortable with the thought of flying again.”
European service from PHL is slated to resume as soon as the travel ban is lifted, with American Airlines’ flights to London-Heathrow, Madrid and Zurich (American service to Paris, Rome, Dublin and Manchester are scheduled to resume in October).