US Airways offers more “Philadelphia freedom”: now serving 23 European cities

Image: US Airways cake
US Airways has focused its strategy this year on adding three key transatlantic routes from its stronghold in Philadelphia: Oslo, Birmingham and Tel Aviv.

Elton John’s classic American number one hit “Philadelphia freedom” may have been inspired by tennis legend Billie Jean King but it could also double-up as the theme tune for US Airways’ operations in the city. In the last two years it has added six new transatlantic routes to five different countries bringing its European network up to 23 routes in 14 countries.

Date of first flight Country Airport Weekly frequency
5 June 2007 Belgium Brussels 7
8 June 2007 Switzerland Zurich 7
29 March 2008 UK London Heathrow 7
12 May 2009 UK Birmingham 5
21 May 2009 Norway Oslo 7
2 July 2009 Israel Tel Aviv 7
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 3 August 2009 and database

In addition to these, US Airways also serves Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Dublin, Frankfurt, Glasgow, Lisbon, London Gatwick, Madrid, Manchester, Milan Malpensa, Munich, Paris CDG, Rome, Shannon, Stockholm Arlanda and Venice. The majority of these are served daily. With the airline having finally gained access to London Heathrow it will be terminating its London Gatwick service next month.

80 domestic and 39 international routes

US Airways and its partners operate over 70% of all scheduled flights at the airport accounting for 65% of seat capacity. Southwest is the only other carrier with at least 10% of capacity spread across 20 routes which are served with an average of three daily flights. In 2008 the airport handled 31.8 million passengers (down just 1.2% on 2007). In the first five months of 2009 airport traffic is down 6.7%.

The domestic network of US Airways comprises 80 routes and only two have been dropped during the last year, to Charleston (West Virginia) and New Bern (North Carolina). Earlier this year both Continental and US Airways began four daily flights each to New York Newark airport, just 80 miles away. The fastest train services between Philadelphia and New York take around one hour.

Apart from the 23 European routes there are also 16 other international routes to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. A new four-times weekly service to Barbados will begin in October operated by A319s.

Philly fares remain stable in 2008; falling in 2009

According to the US Department of Transport Office of Aviation Analysis average fares at Philadelphia have been relatively stable during 2008. Despite US Airways being dominant at the airport it appears that the presence of Southwest has helped keep fares competitive especially on longer-haul domestic routes

Period All markets Short Haul Long Haul
2008 Q1 $187 (+1.0%) $173 (+19.0%) $195 (-6.4%)
2008 Q2 $187 (-0.7%) $175 (+14.1%) $196 (-7.9%)
2008 Q3 $193 (-1.1%) $176 (+11.2%) $204 (-6.9%)
2008 Q4 $186 (+0.1%) $164 (+10.4%) $200 (-4.6%)
Source: US DoT Office of Aviation Analysis
Figures in brackets are fare premiums compared to national average

A recent press release from the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics revealed that in the first quarter of 2009 Philadelphia had the fifth biggest fall among the top 85 airports in the Air Travel Price Index (ATPI). It fell 8.7% from 114.8 to 104.8.


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