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December 04, 2021

Philly airport's economy parking lot to stay closed permanently

The plan is to use the space to expand PHL's capacity to handle cargo shipped to the region; growing that operation could bring as many as 28,000 jobs to the region, officials say

Travel Airports
PHL economy parking Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

PHL's economy parking lot will remain closed permanently. It has been closed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are plans to use the space to expand the airport's cargo operations. The airport's cargo building will more than double in size, and 5 million square feet of new taxiways and plane parking spaces will be paved to accommodate the additional air traffic.

Passengers flying out of Philly this holiday season may want to think twice about driving to the airport. 

Philadelphia International Airport's 7,000-spot economy parking lot, which has been closed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, will remain closed for good.

Since the airport will be left with just 12,000 on-site parking spaces, officials are encouraging travelers to take public transit and taxis or use rideshare apps. SEPTA Airport Line train runs between 30th Street Station and the Philadelphia International every half hour and will more frequently during the busiest flight times.

Travelers who choose to drive should plan to arrive at PHL at least three hours before their departure times and expect to park in one of the roughly 9,000 spots in off-site lots that surround the airport.

The economy lot will be redeveloped as the first phase of the airport's plan to expand its cargo shipping service offerings over the next five to 10 years.

Back in June, officials announced the airport's cargo building space more than double in size from from 600,000 square feet to 1.4 million. Five million square feet of new taxiways and plane parking spaces will be paved to accommodate the additional air traffic.

The move was in response to a 2017 study which airport officials said determined that PHL only capitalized on 9% of a potential $53 billion in air cargo shipped through the Philly area each year. Expanding the airports cargo-handling capacity could bring as many as 28,000 new jobs to the regions, officials said.

"We have a huge opportunity to become one of the most successful cargo airports on the East Coast," Stephanie Wear, the airport's director of air service development and cargo service, said about the plans.

The change has some upset and spawned has spawned the Twitter account Save the PHL Economy Lot, which was created last month.

"What does it say to you that (PHL) has gotten rid of 7000 parking spaces and is making traveling a miserable experience for your passengers?" the account asked in a post that tagged American Airlines, the nation's largest airline which operates a hub out of PHL. To date, the account has just 24 followers.

Parking at the economy lot could cost as little as $13 per day before the pandemic. Now the cheapest parking option at the airport costs $16 per day for drivers of leaves their cars in the lot for at least 72 hours. There also are off-site parking lots used by travelers flying from Philadelphia International Airport.