The Philadelphia Parking Authority’s four-decade rule over airport parking operations could come to an end within a year, putting a significant portion of the authority’s operations at risk and about 100 agency jobs at stake. come to be.
Last week, the city’s Department of Aviation paid more than $54 million in PPA bonds related to the airport’s parking garages, effectively giving the airport complete control of its own sprawling parking lot complex, which the PPA has been operating since the middle of the year. operates in the 1970s.
“Now that this debt has been paid off, the Division of Aviation now owns the airport parking garages and low-cost parking lots,” said PHL spokesman Heather Redfern, “and is pursuing plans to better integrate parking into the overall ground transportation system of developing the airport and the economy for strategic aviation purposes.”
The PPA now has an 11-month deal to run the garages, while airport officials launch a competitive hunt to find a new operator. Redfern said airport officials are excited to develop a new parking program soon and “look forward to working with the PPA during the transition.”
Unless the parking authority wins a competitive bid to become the airport’s next parking operator, it will get the boat sometime in 2022.
But the PPA is not giving up without a fight.
Spokesperson Marty O’Rourke said the agency plans to file an application once the airport has submitted proposals for a new parking operator, with the aim of “protecting family support jobs for our dedicated employees who provide excellent service in the airport.”
Attempts to reach the unions representing PPA airport workers were unsuccessful on Sunday.
The loss of the airport operation wouldn’t affect the PPA’s already tense annual contributions to the city and its cramped school district, as these payments are solely related to street parking revenue. The PPA revenue generated at the airport is limited to financing airport operations and administrative costs associated with the authority’s aviation wing, a spokesman said.
The presence of the parking authority at the airport dates back to 1974, when it began developing its first parking garage on the fast-growing metro hub. Under the agreement, the city leased land to the PPA to fund and develop parking garages, which the agency could then run. Since then, the parking authority has used bonds to expand its empire with seven garages and lots with more than 19,000 parking spaces at its peak.
The airport has long had the option to pay off the PPA’s bonds and take over the parking operation itself.
According to the PPA’s financial documents, the PPA’s lease with the city is set to expire in 2029. And in 2020, the city showed interest in paying off the PPA’s bonds and removing the agency from the airport equation.
The reasons for the decision were not clear on Sunday. According to people familiar with the discussions, the PPA was trying to negotiate a deal to keep the 100-strong workforce. However, under the new arrangement, PPA employees will only continue their activities until the end of this year, with an option to extend the agreement if necessary.
Discussions about lot ownership started after the pandemic started to shift the relationship from the airport to the parking supply.
Before March 2020, the PPA’s aviation division had an annual operation of $63 million, employing 150 people. But demand plummeted after the coronavirus decimated the travel industry. The parking authority’s most recent financial statement reported a loss in operating income of nearly $10 million.
At the same time, airport officials are looking to a new future for the once lucrative parking spaces.
The airport closed its popular parking lot at $13 a day at the start of the pandemic, removing about 7,100 parking spaces. Although originally announced as a temporary closure, it became permanent last year. Officials announced plans to redevelop the site to expand freight transport services – part of a multi-year plan to attract more shipping activity to the airport.