Details of the construction work, at both ends of the existing airport terminal system, were unveiled at a ceremony inaugurating US Airways flights to London's Gatwick Airport.
The flights make London the sixth European city the airline serves nonstop from Philadelphia, US Airways' principal international gateway. The London service will be one round-trip a day rather than the twice-daily schedule announced earlier, because of shortages of landing slots at Gatwick and of wide-body airplanes, US Airways president Rakesh Gangwal said.
Building the international and commuter concourses will bring to almost $1.5 billion the investment the city's Division of Aviation, the airlines, and airline passengers will have made in capital improvements at the airport between the late 1980s and 2001.
The city and US Airways said the $275 million, 700,000-square-foot international terminal would be built west of Terminal A, the concourse now used for overseas flights. The 12-gate concourse will arc out from the end of the Terminal A, sweeping over what is now part of the airport's departures roadway system. It will extend through what is now a ramp area and land occupied by an unused TWA hangar and three other buildings.
Building the facility, to be called Terminal 1, will require relocating, at a cost of $50 million or more, bridges and highway ramps that bring vehicles off Interstate 95.
The city and the airline said the $65 million concourse for US Airways Express commuter flights would be at the northeast end of the terminal system and would be designated Terminal F.
City officials and aviation consultants have estimated that the construction and operation of the terminals will create 3,000 jobs and generate $3.5 billion in economic activity. Already, about 13,000 people work at the airport, 4,000 of them for US Airways, which last year carried more than 60 percent of the airport's passengers.
The terminals, as well as about $50 million in ancillary projects associated with the construction, will be financed with bonds to be sold by the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development, a city agency. The bonds will be paid off with revenue from US Airways and its passengers.
US Airways chose the architectural firms of Kohn Pedersen Fox of New York and Kelly/Maiello of Philadelphia to design Terminal 1. The Sheward Partnership and Odell Associates of Philadelphia will design Terminal F. Kohn Pedersen's recent credits include London's Canary Wharf; IBM Corp.'s Armonk, N.Y., headquarters; and the Shanghai World Financial Center, the airline said.
US Airways' buildup of domestic and international service at Philadelphia the last two years has made the airport the fastest-growing in the Northeast in terms of passenger traffic. More than 22.4 million passengers used the airport in 1997, making it for the first time in years busier than Pittsburgh International Airport and moving it to 22d busiest, from 25th busiest, in the nation.
US Airways planned to go two times a day between Philadelphia and London until last week, when it won the right to fly between Charlotte, N.C., another of its connecting hubs, and London. Now, it plans to use its second Gatwick takeoff-and-landing slot for the Charlotte flights, officials said.
British Airways will increase its flights between Philadelphia and London's Heathrow Airport to twice daily starting April 12, airport officials said.
US Airways plans to start a seventh Philadelphia-Europe service, to and from Amsterdam, on April 29. Northwest Airlines, in partnership with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, is scheduled to start a competing service between Philadelphia and Amsterdam on May 1.
US Airways wants to add more flights between Philadelphia and Europe but needs more long-haul, wide-body jets, airline president Gangwal said.
``We're going to be ordering new wide-bodies within weeks, for delivery by the end of 1999,'' Gangwal said. ``We're negotiating with Boeing and Airbus.''