Improvements at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and the Northeast Philadelphia Airport (PNE), including Bristol Group, Inc.’s new PHL Cool Port cargo facility, and other innovations, support the region’s life sciences ecosystem and cell and gene therapy hub. The projects were the subject of a recent Chamber event, “State of Aviation: Developments and Opportunities,” which gathered business executives on October 10, 2023, at the Philadelphia offices of CYTO | PHL, a life sciences community space in The Cira Centre, for a discussion with aviation leaders.

The program amplified the Chamber’s vision – the Greater Philadelphia region as a top global destination for business and a leader in inclusive growth. Chellie Cameron, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber, who previously served as Chief Executive Officer for the City of Philadelphia Department of Aviation, said she aimed to have attendees come away with a better appreciation for what colleagues and friends do at the airport to help make the city move. She urged participants to share the region’s good news. “It matters a lot.”

Panelists included Atif Saeed, Chief Executive Officer, City of Philadelphia Department of Aviation; Chamber member Clyde M. Woltman, Chief Executive Officer, Leonardo Helicopters US; and Chamber member Lakshman Amaranayaka, Vice President, American Airlines (American) at PHL. As moderator, Cameron covered topics including each organization’s pandemic recovery, upcoming capital projects, new air service, workforce development initiatives, and plans for welcoming the world to Greater Philadelphia in 2026 for both Philadelphia250, the region’s celebration of the United States Semiquincentennial, and FIFA Philadelphia, the city’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup.

PHL is a vital economic engine for the region, generates billions of dollars annually, and supports more than 100,000 jobs for the 11-county Greater Philadelphia region. PNE contributes nearly $500,000 million in annual economic impact and supports over 3,000 jobs.

PHL Cool Port

Of particular interest to the region’s life sciences community is the announcement of a 261,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art climate-controlled cargo facility at PHL developed by Bristol Group, Inc.

Opening in 2025, PHL Cool Port will offer warehouse space and broad cooler and freezer temperatures to accommodate cargo related to pharmaceuticals and life sciences, as well as perishable food and specialized electronics.

The Chamber shared the news in a recent edition of its Momentum newsletter, quoting Saeed, who directs the planning, development, and administration of all activities at PHL and PNE and oversees all airport personnel.

“Having a state-of-the-art cold storage facility at PHL will make our airport the premier cargo airport in the eastern United States, given our location adjacent to I-95 and close proximity to the Port of Philadelphia,” Saeed said. “The addition of this facility stands to benefit the Greater Philadelphia region in many ways, from the billions of dollars generated by cold storage cargo and pharmaceutical business to the hundreds of jobs created by the construction and operation of the building.”

American Airlines’ Philadelphia TC Facility

Amaranayaka oversees American’s fourth-largest hub and the airline’s trans-Atlantic gateway. “In 1985, American called Philadelphia a hub,” Amaranayaka said, “and since then, we’ve become really interested in ensuring that cargo is a big part of business.” That includes life science and healthcare cargo, which American supports at its 25,000-square-foot, temperature-controlled ExpediteTC pharmaceutical handling facility at PHL. “When you talk about cold storage facilities at the airport in the future, we are going to be the dominant player,” he said about PHL.

Telling the Region’s Business Stories

Among the business stories the Chamber amplifies are companies that have located or expanded in the Greater Philadelphia region. The Chamber shares the stories on its Select Greater Philadelphia website, through its social media channels, and in its Momentum newsletter, which provides the latest updates on company expansions, groundbreaking developments, and economic progress in the region.

A recent profile featured is Leonardo Helicopters US, which is headquartered in Italy and operates in the U.S. as a tenant of PNE. At PNE, 1,000 employees design, engineer, and produce helicopters. Woltman, a retired Marine Corps Colonel, leads operations in the U.S. “It’s a very positive relationship we enjoy with the airfield.” You can read more about Leonardo’s Philadelphia hub in Momentum and subscribe to the newsletter here.

The Chamber event was co-sponsored by Comcast Business, Enterprise Holdings (Alamo, Enterprise, National), Stradley Ronon, and Uber, with supporting sponsors My Benefit Advisor and Philadelphia Parking Authority. Sponsorship opportunities at future Chamber events are available to fit a variety of goals and budgets. Contact [email protected] for more information.

Your Response Needed: PHL – Mexico Flight Survey

The Chamber is partnering with Equitable Cities Consulting and Connect the Dots to measure interest in a direct, non-stop flight between Mexico and Philadelphia, with a particular focus on understanding how a direct flight to Mexico might impact the business community in the Greater Philadelphia region. Please take a moment to respond to this brief survey by Thursday, November 16, 2023.