Happy 10th anniversary – Terminal A-West celebrates milestone at PHL

Posted: 29 May 2013 | Philadelphia International Airport | No comments yet

Ten years ago this month, PHL proudly welcomed the first passengers to its spectacular international Terminal A-West…

Ten years ago this month, Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) proudly welcomed the first passengers to its spectacular international Terminal A-West.

The travelers circulated through the spacious concourse awash in natural lighting filtering through the building’s voluminous glass exterior, taking in the captivating permanent works of art including a Liberty Bell constructed of Legos, dined at new restaurants, and waited for their flights in large seating areas at 13 new international gates. Some rode the 82-foot long escalators – the longest in the City – to the brand new US Airways Envoy Lounge running almost the length of a concourse on the 4th level. The first arriving international passengers passed through a federal inspection area larger than 3 ½ football fields. Then they stepped into a stunning Arrivals Hall with an atrium roof nearly 6 stories off the ground and breathtaking visuals of the opening words to the Declaration of Independence in huge scripted lettering and replica signatures of the signers of the historic document inscribed on a plexiglass barrier along the walkway.

Ten years and nearly 40 million passengers later, Terminal A-West remains the grand entrance to PHL as well as the gateway to the City and the world. Today, the Airport celebrated the international terminal’s anniversary by greeting travelers with the sounds of Philly’s famous Mummers and various live entertainment, commemorative souvenirs, complimentary refreshments, and festive decorations.

“Terminal A-West is the cornerstone of our Airport complex, and we are very proud that this magnificent facility is the portal to our City and our country,” said Airport CEO Mark Gale. “This is a special day where we can celebrate the integral role A-West has played in our international air service expansion over the last decade and be excited about the opportunities to add more flights to more cities moving ahead.” Terminal A-West’s arrival in May 2003 ushered in new international air service, particularly transatlantic service, at PHL. The massive new terminal — 800,000 square feet spread over 4 levels – was designed to accommodate wide-body aircraft used on long-haul routes and provide enhanced federal inspection facilities and other amenities and facilities to handle large numbers of international passengers.

When A-West combined with the former international facility in Terminal A-East, the Airport’s new international complex offered twice as many gates, triple the square footage, four times as many federal inspection booths, nearly twice as many retail shops and restaurants, three times as many baggage claim carousels and a brand new Arrivals Hall.

Prior to A-West’s opening, airlines offered a handful of nonstop European flights to London, Manchester, Madrid, Paris, Rome, Frankfurt, and Munich. Today, there are 20 daily and seasonal nonstop flights to 16 cities in Europe and Tel Aviv, Israel in the Middle East. US Airways, which operates service to all 17 transatlantic destinations as well as 15 Caribbean destinations, Bermuda and 5 cities in Canada, has established its international gateway in Philadelphia. Since A-West opened, US Airways has added nonstop service to Shannon and Dublin, Ireland; Glasgow, Scotland; Lisbon, Portugal; Barcelona, Spain; Venice, Italy; Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Brussels, Belgium; Athens, Greece; Zurich, Switzerland; and Tel Aviv. On May 22nd, the airline re-started seasonal flights to Shannon, which had been discontinued in 2009. In the last couple of years, US Airways has also started nonstop flights to Halifax and Quebec City in Canada.

Earlier this month, Qatar Airways announced that it plans to begin nonstop service to Doha in March 2014. Air Canada, British Airways and Lufthansa have had a longtime presence in PHL with flights to Toronto, London and Frankfurt, respectively. All total, airlines offer more than 70 nonstop flights on a daily and seasonal basis to 38 international cities.

“We are very excited about how our air service, especially to international destinations, has grown since Terminal A-West opened,” Gale said. “We continue to engage our airline partners as well as new potential partners in bringing new convenient service to foreign cities from the Philadelphia region. Our international facilities have enabled us in our efforts to better position Philadelphia in the global marketplace, and we are proud to celebrate that achievement.”

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