The following is an update concerning the Philadelphia International Airport plan to expand in Philadelphia and neighboring Tinicum Township. I have been advising Tinicum Township owners of the lack of Philadelphia eminent domain power outside of Philadelphia.
The Airport Enhancement Program was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) at the end of 2010. Since then, the Airport expansion has been delayed by court challenges and significant opposition. Tinicum Township and a strong community group, Residents Against Airport Expansion in Delco, have effectively fought expansion into Tinicum Township, where the City of Philadelphia does not have the power of eminent domain. These efforts may force an expansion redesign. Such a potential redesign was recognized in the FAA Order approving the project. The more significant challenge to the project has been presented by the airlines, led by the largest airline of the Airport, US Airways. The airlines could be forced to pay most of the estimated $6.4 billion bill. The airlines have strenuously been negotiating against the project. Those negotiations have broken down, as reflected in public statements recently issued.
The airlines have complained about the cost and Rhett Workman, a US Airways spokesperson, has pointed out that the ground construction would not resolve the fundamental problem of air space congestion. In contrast, Rina Coulter, the Philadelphia deputy mayor for transportation, stated the Airport is moving forward and will build an additional runway. The City indicated that if the airlines fail to agree, the City would pass an Ordinance, by July, to allow it to move forward.
I expect that the Airport, after some further delay, will proceed with a modified expansion project. That project could involve the acquisition of the same or even more Philadelphia properties. Property owners should be fully aware of their property rights to combat deceptive negotiation practices.