Airlines' Fight at Philadelphia Int'l Stalls Growth

Neither Southwest nor US Airways can add flights as they would like until the disagreement ends.

In a letter last week to city Commerce Director Stephanie Naidoff, the chairman of the CEO Council didn't take sides in the dispute. Rather, Mark S. Schweiker wrote that the council wanted the airport "to provide proper capacity" for all airlines.

Isdell said US Airways has rejected several ideas proposed by his staff and airport consultants to get more use out of its gates. Many of the airline's international gates now are used for four or fewer flights a day.

Moving Delta would increase airport revenue as well as help concessionaires in both Terminal E and A-East, Isdell said.

Among the ideas to resolve the dispute, Isdell said, would be to park wide-body jets several hundred yards from the terminals and use a fleet of oversize buses the airport owns to ferry passengers to and from planes. The buses can be loaded and unloaded directly from planes and from the bridges passengers normally use to board. Isdell said the vehicles were used, without complaints from passengers, from 1999 to 2004 by US Airways and others when Terminal A-East was the only one available for international flights.

Gee said that busing passengers back and forth to planes would put US Airways at a competitive disadvantage to other airlines that offer nonstop flights to Europe here and in the New York area, with no busing involved.

Isdell said one solution to the dilemma would be reconfiguring space in Terminal A-West so what is now a single gate for wide-body jets could become two gates for smaller Boeing 757 jets. The 180-seat 757 hasn't traditionally been used on transatlantic flights, but US Airways started using the aircraft last summer for some service to smaller European cities.

Two competing airlines, Delta from New York's Kennedy International Airport and Continental from Newark International Airport, are using 757s extensively so they can serve more cities in Europe, those airlines have said.

Delta was willing to move out of Terminal E, Isdell said. Last week, Delta spokeswoman Gina Laughlin said the airline still believed that the move was good for the airport because it would provide "the best overall gate utilization."

Contact staff writer Tom Belden at 215-854-2454 or .

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