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Charles Isdell

Charles Isdell, A.A.E.

Senior Advisor

Background & Experience

As Philadelphia’s Director of Aviation from 2000 to 2009, Charles Isdell oversaw Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), the nation’s 10th busiest airport, and Northeast Philadelphia Airport (PNE), a busy general aviation facility.  During his tenure, PHL served over 250 million passengers on over 4 million flights, and 200 airport-related businesses employing 42,000 people generated a regional economic impact of more than $14 billion a year.

Mr. Isdell’s commitment to passenger service was the Airport’s hallmark in the post-9/11 era.  In 2003, for example, low-cost, airport-wide, wireless Internet service was initiated.  That same year, the airport’s food and beverage program was recognized by Airports Council International as the best in North America.  In 2004, PHL became 100% smoke-free. In 2008, J.D. Power ranked PHL highest in customer satisfaction.

Under Mr. Isdell’s leadership, PHL constructed a $550 million international terminal, a $100 million regional terminal, and a $300 million domestic terminal expansion.  US Airways utilized the new international facility to add non-stop flights to 12 cities, including Athens, Brussels, Dublin, Lisbon, Milan, Tel Aviv and Venice.  Domestic terminal expansion enabled Southwest Airlines to enter the Philadelphia market in 2004, triggering dramatic airfare reductions that saved passengers billions of travel dollars.  A delay-reducing $65 million runway extension was completed in 2008.

Mr. Isdell’s prudent fiscal management improved the airport’s competitive position by keeping airline costs down.  Budget surpluses were achieved every year on operating revenues that grew to $275 million.

A renewed emphasis on environmental stewardship led to a precedent-setting purchase of wind energy from PECO in 2007.  Storm water management and wildlife habitat preservation programs were successfully implemented.  Hundreds of nearby homes were insulated under the airport’s noise compatibility program.

Mr. Isdell holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Temple University and has done post-graduate work at the Wharton School, George Washington University, MIT and UCAL Berkeley.  He is accredited by the American Association of Airport Executives.  He has lectured at the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, Temple University, and George Washington University and spoken at industry conferences in the United States and abroad. In 2007, he received an Honorary Doctorate in Engineering from Drexel University.  In 2009, he was named “Executive in Residence” at Temple’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

In 2003, he received the March of Dimes Service to Humanity Award and was named “Airport Director of the Year” by Airport Revenue News Magazine. He co-chaired the Board of the Philadelphia Hospitality & Tourism Academies from 2000 through 2009.  He is certified to teach Secondary English and has been doing so on a part-time basis at several public and private schools since 2009. Since 2016, he has coordinated a summer internship program for high school students at Moorestown Friends School.

Mr. Isdell has two sons, Brian and Kevin, and five grandchildren, Kailey, Kevin, Jack, Preston and Lydia.  He enjoys tennis, crossword puzzles and gardening with his wife Nancy.

Areas of Expertise

  • Airport Related Business
  • Fiscal Management
  • Planning