Lest there be any lingering doubt that US Airways has in fact threatened to scuttle plans for serving Philadelphia-Beijing, the carrier released the following statement to employees:
“…The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Wednesday [November 7] that US Airways may give back its authority to fly PHL-China because international gates may not be available. This is the result of decisions by PHL airport officials to boost domestic flying in Terminal A at the expense of international operations.
“These news reports are true, and may become an unfortunate reality. We’ve told the airport authority, city and Commonwealth officials that if the airport moves Delta domestic flights to three international gates, we will 1) have to reconsider international expansion from PHL next year, and 2) withdraw our authority for PHL-China service that we hoped to begin in spring of 2009.”
“We’ve pledged that we wouldn’t subject our customers or employees to an unreliable international operation again. We haven’t given up. US Airways and Philadelphia worked hard to win this award together, and in that spirit of partnership, we hope to find a solution.
“We’ll continue to work for an agreement right up until the time the airport finalizes its decision, and we’ll keep employees posted as these events unfold.”
US Airways’ threat is being made in response to Delta's move tomorrow from Philadelphia’s Terminal E to Terminal A-East, which will make more room for Southwest Airlines at Terminal E, and strip US Airways of three of 16 widebody gates at the international concourse.
Last week, during a heated joint press conference between Senator Arlen Specter and US Airways CEO Doug Parker, the former likened US Airways' threat to extortion. At that time, Parker did not outright confirm the accuracy of the Inquirer's report, but said: "What we have simply said, and very careful to say in a way that we’re not trying to threaten anybody, simply to give facts that if indeed we have fewer gates than we had last summer, not only can we not expand, we are going to have to contract on our international operations."
Delta confirmed today that it plans to move to Terminal A-East tomorrow.