View Full Version : Cheaper Airline Fares Draw New Yorkers To Philadelphia International Airport

March 14th, 2005, 02:57 PM
Cheaper Airline Fares Draw New Yorkers To Philadelphia

MARCH 13TH, 2005

Cheaper airline fares are reportedly luring many New Yorkers to the city of brotherly love.

The New York Times says many bargain-hunters are bypassing JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airports and choosing to fly out of Philadelphia International Airport for domestic travel.

The paper says the arrival of the popular budget carrier Southwest Airlines in Philadelphia last May has forced the local competition to significantly slash prices. Southwest does not fly out of any of New York’s major airports.

Philadelphia Airport officials told the Times that travel there has increased 15 percent since Southwest set up shop.


March 14th, 2005, 02:59 PM
On the Whole, They'd Rather Fly From Philadelphia

March 13, 2005

One of the luxuries of living in Manhattan is having easy access to three major airports, but Angel Hess plans to pass them by this week when he takes off for Arizona.

Instead, he'll make a two-hour road trip to Philadelphia International Airport. Like a growing number of New York area residents, he has discovered that airfares often are significantly lower in Philadelphia, the latest Northeastern city to be shaken up by the arrival of Southwest Airlines. "It's a lot cheaper," said Mr. Hess, a 26-year-old fashion photographer.

Now that he has a $260 round-trip ticket to Flagstaff, all he needs is a ride to Philadelphia. If none is offered, he said, he will take a bus from Chinatown. Even with a $20 round-trip bus fare, he said, he would save about $100 by flying from Philadelphia. But other price-conscious travelers are finding even bigger discounts there.

Airfares have been dropping faster in Philadelphia than in any other big city, fueling a boom in traffic at the congested airport there. Despite its reputation for delays and baggage difficulties, Philadelphia International is now attracting more passengers for domestic flights than any of New York's three major airports - La Guardia, Kennedy International or Newark Liberty International.

Transportation officials say they do not know how many of those travelers are being lured away by lower fares, but they concede that New Yorkers are not immune to what is known in the travel industry as the Southwest effect. When Southwest Airlines, the king of the low-fare carriers, arrives in a new city, it drives down airfares and adds traffic.

Southwest started operating in Philadelphia in May. After holding steady for six years, the number of travelers passing through the airport, which is owned by the city, rose more than 15 percent last year to 28.5 million, said T. Jeffrey Shull, the airport chief of staff.

The trend would merely be an extension of the shift that has been under way in New York since JetBlue Airways set up shop at Kennedy five years ago. In what could be called the JetBlue shuffle, travelers from all over the region have been going to Kennedy to fly on JetBlue's planes, best known for having satellite-TV screens mounted in the backs of all of their seats.

Tim Rose, the president of Flyte Tyme Limousine in Mahwah, N.J., questioned the sanity of local residents who would venture to Philadelphia for a cheap flight. "Why would anybody do that?" he asked.

But he admitted that, despite living within a half-hour of Newark and being a gold-level frequent flier on Continental Airlines, he regularly chances New York City traffic to fly JetBlue to southwest Florida, where he has a second home. With JetBlue as its main drawing card, Kennedy grew more than twice as fast as La Guardia or Newark last year, and even faster than Philadelphia International. Kennedy's total passenger count, including international passengers, rose 18.2 percent in 2004, while La Guardia's rose 8.7 percent and Newark's 8.7 percent, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the three airports.

The changing traffic patterns at the airports around New York illustrate the powerful lure of lower fares. Ten years ago, Newark handled 5 million more domestic passengers annually than Kennedy and 3.3 million more than Philadelphia International. By last year, the deck had been reshuffled and Philadelphia was on top.

In 2004, 11.7 million domestic passengers boarded planes at Philadelphia, according to figures released last week by the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics. La Guardia had 11.5 million and Newark had 11.4 million. Kennedy was gaining fast, with almost 10 million domestic passengers, or almost 5,000 more each day in 2004 than in 2003, the statistics show.

David Barger, the president of JetBlue, said the surge of traffic in Philadelphia was inevitable once Southwest prompted US Airways, the dominant carrier there, to slash its fares last spring. "There's tremendous competition going on down in Philadelphia, and that's going to be very beneficial for consumers," he said.

Mr. Barger said JetBlue had been attracting customers from as far as 100 miles away and from as far south as Trenton. About 10 percent of the people flying JetBlue from Kennedy live in New Jersey, he said.

Mr. Shull, the chief of staff at Philadelphia, said Southwest clearly was stimulating additional travel by residents of the Philadelphia area. But, he added, "It would be misguided to believe that none of this traffic is coming from another market."

Philadelphia's gains came in spite of its airport's poor performance. During the Christmas holidays last year, US Airways suffered a service meltdown, concentrated in Philadelphia, that left almost 50,000 passengers stranded and thousands of pieces of luggage lost or damaged. In January, the airport ranked last in on-time performance, with fewer than 6 in 10 flights arriving on time.

Anthony R. Coscia, chairman of the Port Authority, said he did not believe Newark was losing customers in significant numbers to Philadelphia International, but he acknowledged that JetBlue was drawing New Jersey residents to Kennedy - himself included, though he noted that fares had not been the determining factor. JetBlue flew to the airport closest to their destination.

He said the Port Authority had been concentrating on improving Newark's terminals and parking facilities as well as its offering of international flights, a traditional weakness. Last year, Newark's international traffic rose 15.5 percent to almost 8.9 million passengers.

Malcolm Frankel, who runs A-1 Limousine in Princeton, N.J., said more of his customers, whether traveling for business or pleasure, have been switching from Newark to Philadelphia International.

"A lot of corporations that were using Newark are now changing and using Philadelphia because of the price," Mr. Frankel said.

Two weeks ago, he said, three couples from Basking Ridge, N.J., and bound for Orlando were willing to bypass Newark for a 150-mile round-trip to Philadelphia because lower airfares more than offset the cost of the longer car ride, he said.

Before Southwest came along, Philadelphia was an expensive airport, with fares about 20 percent higher than the national average, Mr. Shull said. But fares have fallen to slightly less than the national average, as measured in dollars per mile, he said.

The latest survey by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics found that airfares in Philadelphia dropped more than 15 percent from the third quarter of 2003 to the third quarter of 2004. In the New York-Newark market, fares fell less then 3 percent during that period, matching the national trend. But fares have been declining faster in several other Eastern cities that are served by either Southwest or JetBlue, including Boston; Washington; Providence, R.I.; and Hartford. Over the last decade, the cost of flying fell about 10 percent in Boston and Providence, and almost 6 percent in Philadelphia, while it rose 2.2 percent in the New York-Newark market, the statistics show.

Elisabeth Iafelice, a legal assistant in Point Pleasant, N.J., has noticed. In May, she and her husband plan to fly to Aruba from Philadelphia, though the airport is about 25 miles farther from their home than Newark is.

"I would pay more to fly out of Philly, but I never have to," said Mrs. Iafelice, who goes to Aruba twice a year. The fare from Philadelphia is usually $100 lower than the fare from Newark, a savings that really mattered in November when they took eight friends and relatives with them, she said.

The Iafelices usually drive the day before their flight to a hotel near the Philadelphia airport, where they can stay overnight and park for a week for a grand total of $69, she said. They could do the same at Newark for $70, but they would have to sleep in their car.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

alex ballard
March 14th, 2005, 03:24 PM
Now if they only did this with jobs and housing, Philly would be alright!

TLOZ Link5
March 14th, 2005, 07:13 PM
A new take on those Cingular ads you see in the subways.

October 22nd, 2005, 12:04 PM
Now if they only did this with jobs and housing, Philly would be alright!
we have housing, just not jobs (in the city). FYI...there's a train that runs to the airport from 30th st station and also near where the chinatown busese drop you off.

October 22nd, 2005, 07:29 PM
I go to school in North Carolina and live in Monmouth County, New Jersey. It's about 40 minutes away from Newark, and twice as far away from Philadelphia. I try to use Philly as often as possible. An example of how much cheaper the fares are: $100 for a roundtrip for Christmas break (on Southwest, only a few dollars more on USAirways), vs. $250 on American or Continental into Newark.