Philadelphia’s Mayor-elect Michael Nutter must be a powerfully persuasive guy. He has apparently succeeded where Senators Arlen Specter, Bob Casey and a host of state and local officials have floundered – convincing US Airways to delay a decision on withdrawing plans for offering nonstop service between Philadelphia and Beijing.
“Mayor-elect Nutter has asked us to ‘refrain from taking action’ until he and his staff have time to study the gate issue and we will honor that request,” says US Airways in a statement.
No doubt US Airways is glad he asked. The request could not have been any better timed. For the moment, it relieves US Airways from making good on a threat to scuttle Philadelphia-Beijing service should Delta Air Lines move over to Terminal A-East – which Delta did last night!
Just what remedy might Nutter produce to satisfy US Airways, which claims its international growth is being hampered by Delta’s move?
Previous ideas that have been floated – and ceremoniously rejected by one party or another - include constructing an additional wing, as well as building a brand new terminal at the airport.
Referring to the latter plan, Specter last week said: “Well I don’t know that I’m going to back federal expenditures on a new terminal for Philadelphia with the way that this company [US Airways] conducts itself.”
According to US Airways, Nutter and his team will “evaluate options that would meet the dual goals of expanded domestic gate capacity for new domestic service and dedicated gates to allow US to jointly grow Philadelphia as an international hub”.
It all sounds so simple. And maybe it will prove to be just that.
Does anyone really believe US Airways will give up its China rights, flying in the face of all those Philadelphians who supported its application to the DOT? Or that US Airways will allow Maxjet Airways to slip in and take the authority?
Maxjet has already called on the DOT to investigate US Airways’ threat, and to give the all-premium operator back-up authority to fly Seattle-Shanghai.