In recent years, airports around the world enjoyed a golden age of air service development in regard to new route successes, expanded networks and positive enplanement growth. Airport leadership was able to partner with airlines and offer incentives to bring new expanded routes that could increase enplanements and economic vitality to regions. Established relationships, headquarter meetings, promotional partnerships and stakeholder engagements all benefited from this period of continued economic stability.
The impacts of COVID-19
Enter 2020 and the COVID-19 crisis. Airlines shrunk down to oblivion and the years of hard work between airports, communities and valuable airline partners vanished. PHL’s capacity hit its lowest point in
PHL serves the eighth largest metropolitan area in the
When COVID-19 hit, PHL’s leadership team immediately began working to create a comprehensive strategy to jumpstart the airport’s recovery. This plan included looking for innovative ways to partner with airlines, driving consumer confidence, improving the guest experience and working with stakeholders in the airport. Free parking for passengers and employees in the airport’s garages eliminated the need for shuttle buses (along with the associated costs) and were deferred to help concessioners. An additional focus was put on working with our partner airlines and creating an incentive programme that would align their immediate needs with those of the airport.
The PHL team looked for possibilities to drive short-term economic growth by regaining capacity from all our carriers and finding ways to support carriers willing to come back quickly. Initial steps involved reviewing various levels of data to gain an understanding of the airport’s core domestic and international markets and what routes would not automatically return. The PHL team modelled projections of passenger traffic levels with a range of scenarios to understand what the financial commitment could be with different types of financial incentives. The resulting PHL COVID-19 Air Service Recovery Incentive Program (CASRIP) is designed to match an airline’s needs with what the airport can offer.
PHL’s COVID-19 Air Service Recovery Incentive Program (CASRIP)
When developing CASRIP,
A recurring point discovered in PHL’s research was that high-profile overseas routes at PHL are critical for the long-term health of the airport; representing a
PHL benefits from being an
The world of COVID-19 has taught PHL and airports around the world that things can change instantly, and this required the incentive programme to include a framework that still rewards air carriers who want to start brand new services into the market. The PHL team believes that, with consistent dialogue, airlines will try to be opportunistic on the other side of this crisis.
As the airport team seized the moment to position itself as a partner to airlines, they also wanted to create another seismic shift – introducing air cargo incentives for the first time. Currently, cargo flows are critical, but belly lift has decreased drastically. PHL felt that it could capitalise on a long overdue ability to promote the
Ultimately, CASRIP provides a gesture or sweetener to airlines as they evaluate when and how they return to the market. Airlines may have less patience in a post-COVID-19 world for new or restored routes to deliver results, so PHL does not want to be penalised for not supporting those high-profile international routes, new domestic routes and expanded cargo operations. In a city that is known for its , the world should expect us to be leaders in partnerships.
In recent weeks, the airport has also been balancing the realities of the airline conversations with our government stakeholders who are working with PHL to remove restrictions for international travel to the
Airlines only have so many aircraft, even fewer than before the COVID-19 crisis. PHL wants to ensure that it offers the most attractive yet sustainable incentives to help bring them back to the
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