PHL does not reopen economy parking which costs travelers thousands of spaces


At Philadelphia International Airport, the economy parking lot, closed since the start of the pandemic, will not reopen to passengers. Instead, the airport plans to develop the property as part of a multi-year effort to expand cargo services and gain more maritime business, a PHL official confirmed on Thursday.

“This real estate will be used to support the first phase of our freight redevelopment program,” said James Tyrrell, PHL revenue manager, in an interview. The 40-acre plot will be a “critical piece for us to get this program started.”

As the busy Thanksgiving travel season approaches, the airport urges passengers to use alternatives, such as boarding SEPTA or taking Uber and Lyft. Travelers who insist on driving themselves must arrive three hours before their flight to find a parking space, Tyrrell said.

However, the decision to keep the economy parking closed means that PHL passengers will have to adjust their expectations regarding long-term parking availability.

“With any kind of growth, there are challenges,” Tyrrell said. “People are just used to having it available to them. “

The economy lot – which has 7,100 spaces – has been closed since March 2020, to the chagrin of some travelers who had difficulty finding spaces in the garages. The closure of nearby long-term private land, sold as part of a $ 45 million deal last summer for warehouse development, has added to the crisis.

Around 12,000 spaces are available to travelers in airport car parks. Tyrrell estimates that nearly 9,000 spaces are available at private land near PHL.

PHL expects 400,000 outgoing passengers during the Thanksgiving holiday, Nov. 19-30.

“This is a marked increase from what the airport has seen in recent times,” Tyrrell said. But overall, passenger traffic remains down 30% from 2019 levels.

Reopening the Economy Lot just for the holidays is not an option, Tyrrell said, citing the costs and logistics of what it would take to restart the frequent shuttle service.

Before the pandemic, shuttle service to and from the field cost the airport around $ 10 million a year, he said.

“There’s absolutely no way we can open the economic park in time for the holidays, even if we wanted to,” Tyrrell said.

Passengers can consult the online guide public and land transport options.

On the one hand, PHL shares reservation data with SEPTA so the transit system can adjust capacity, Tyrrell said. He praised the Regional railway line R1, which runs every half hour between the city center and PHL.

Besides ordering an Uber, Lyft, or cab, “it’s always nice to have a family member or friend drop you off,” Tyrrell said.

The economic fate, meanwhile, now appears to be tied to the PHL freight redevelopment program announced earlier this year.

“There is a higher and better use for this real estate,” Tyrrell said.

Plans unveiled by PHL in June call for the development of one million square feet of freight facilities over the next five to ten years. Authorities have estimated that the new freight operations could generate an annual economic impact of $ 1 billion.

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