The city estimates the expansion will create thousands of jobs, cost $6.5 billion and take 12 to 15 years to complete. It will include the construction of a new runway, extensions of two existing runways, expansion of the terminal complex, construction of a people-mover train for passengers, relocation of the existing UPS freight-handling facility, and new rental-car facilities and public parking.
Airlines that use the airport, led by US Airways, have objected to the planned expansion, arguing that the cost — which they will pay — will be about $10.5 billion, and that the new runway won’t ease congestion or boost capacity. The real problem, the airlines contend, is in the crowded skies over the northeastern United States, not on the ground in Philadelphia.
"We have outstanding issues with the airlines, but we’re continuing to negotiate, and it’s in everybody’s interest to get to ‘yes,’?" deputy mayor Rina Cutler said Thursday.
Cutler said the creation of the project-management team "is really the first big step … on the very long road to creating an extraordinary airport. This gets us out of the planning phase and into the action phase."
She said a priority will be to figure out what jobs will be needed when and "what the workforce development will look like — how do we put Philadelphians to work."
Gale said the project-management office will help develop financial numbers that both the airlines and airport officials can trust.
The airlines and airport managers have sounded more conciliatory since a face-to-face meeting in March between Mayor Nutter and US Airways chief executive Doug Parker.
Parker flew to Philadelphia to meet with Nutter amid public disagreement between the airport and its dominant airline about the need for the new runway along the Delaware River.
The two officials agreed to meet every three months on the expansion plans.
US Airways’ lease to use the airport expires in July 2013, and the airline has balked at signing a new lease until the expansion issue has been settled. City officials said earlier this year that if the airline did not sign a new lease by July, they would seek an ordinance to set new rates unilaterally.
That threat is now off the table, and Nutter and Parker have both said the two sides remain committed to getting a new 15-year lease signed.
Contact Paul Nussbaum at 215-854-4587 or email@example.com.