US carriers American Airlines and Delta Air Lines have announced plans to enhance connectivity between Philadelphia and London with the introduction of two additional daily flights in this transatlantic market from summer 2015. The new services to Heathrow Airport will bring the number of daily rotations on this route to up to five and will end the monopoly currently held by the oneworld alliance.
The Philadelphia – London Heathrow route has for a long time been served only British Airways with twice daily services. However, from March 2008, US Airways introduced a daily flight to complement its long-standing daily route into London Gatwick. From October 2010 it consolidated its flying at Heathrow and ended its Gatwick service, and its recent merger with American Airlines has now seen this route incorporated into the oneworld schedule.
“We have flown from Philadelphia to London for 15 years and customers travelling through our Philadelphia hub have unrivalled access to hundreds of destinations in the United States, Europe and beyond”Chuck Schubert
Vice President of Network and Schedule Planning, American Airlines
The arrival of Delta’s daily flight from April 8, 2015, its eighth destination to the U.S. from Heathrow, will bring increased competition to the market. The route will be operated through its partnership with Virgin Atlantic Airways and will be flown by a Boeing 757-200 configured with 164 seats.
According to Delta, Philadelphia is already among the partnership’s top 15 onward destinations for travel across the partners’ transatlantic network which from next summer will grow to 39 daily flights to 16 destinations across North America.
“We are almost one year into our joint venture with Virgin Atlantic and our commitment to improving connectivity between the United Kingdom and United States remains as strong as ever,” said Perry Cantarutti, senior vice president, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Delta Air Lines. “By starting flights to Philadelphia, customers not only have more choice on this route, but it also offers greater access to the north eastern corner of the United States.”
Delta, part of the SkyTeam alliance, will face tougher competition against its oneworld rivals with American Airline introducing a second daily frequency between Philadelphia and London Heathrow from March 29, 2015. The daytime flight, flown by a US Airways Boeing 757-200, will offer enhanced connection opportunities across the US East Coast to the existing flight.
"One of the benefits of our merger is that we can enhance the service our customers have enjoyed for years in each of our nine hubs," said Chuck Schubert, vice president of network and schedule planning, American Airlines. "We have flown from Philadelphia to London for 15 years and customers travelling through our Philadelphia hub have unrivalled access to hundreds of destinations in the United States, Europe and beyond."
Philadelphia has important historical significance in the US as the place where the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were signed. It is the fifth most populous city in the country and according to data compiled by the US Department of Commerce, Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, the UK is the primary international source market to the area, attracting 673,000 visitors in 2013.
American Airlines, and its partner British Airways, are able to take advantage of the US carrier’s network from Philadelphia to supplement the point-to-point demand. American has the most extensive network out of Philadelphia International Airport and offers more than 475 daily flights to 124 destinations from its hub.
In addition to its flights to London, American also offers year-round service from Philadelphia to Amsterdam, Brussels, Dublin, Frankfurt, Madrid, Manchester, Munich, Paris and Tel Aviv, as well as seasonal service to Athens, Barcelona, Glasgow, Lisbon, Rome, Shannon, Venice and Zurich. The airline also introduced a Philadelphia - Edinburgh connection this year but has dropped this for 2015 in favour of serving Scotland's capital city from New York and relying on partner British Airways to connect passengers via the expanded London Heathrow schedule.
In our analysis, below, we look in greater detail at passenger flows on the existing American Airlines and British Airways flights between Philadelphia and London Heathrow. The data shows that over the past ten years the route has generated a relative balance between local and transfer traffic, although since the late 2000s the proportion of transfer passengers has been on the rise. Over the period between 2004 and 2013 passenger demand on the route has risen by over 40 per cent, with an average annual growth rate of 4.5 per cent.