Washington Dulles International Airport personnel are actively training, practicing and working closely with government agencies and public health officials to address concerns related to the Ebola virus, managers at Dulles told the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority board of directors at its monthly meeting on Wednesday.
Directors received assurances that airport personnel are coordinating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Customs and Border Protection officials in advance of the start of the federal agencies’ enhanced Ebola screenings, which are set to begin this week.
“Communicable disease detection and response is nothing new at Dulles,” said Dulles Airport Manager Chris Browne. “We regularly train and drill with our federal, state and local partners, who would lead the response to a potential incident. We will continue to work closely with our partners to support their efforts and ensure that Airports Authority personnel are ready to respond if necessary.”
The enhanced screenings are being led by CDC and CBP and conducted by Customs officers for passengers traveling from the three Ebola-affected West African countries. The Airports Authority has a long-standing plan in place for responding to communicable disease at both Dulles International and Ronald Reagan Washington National airports and routinely hosts practice drills to test, refine and improve the airports response should an incident occur.
Airports Authority Fire and Rescue, airport operations and airport managers’ staffs are collaborating closely with Customs and the CDC, and are conferring with colleagues at JFK Airport in New York where screenings have already begun, to ensure that they are ready to assist, support and respond as needed.
Other Board Meeting News:
The directors also heard reports on new flights at both Reagan National and Dulles International. On October 2, Dulles International welcomed its second scheduled service by an Airbus A380, when British Airways began using the world’s largest commercial aircraft for one of its daily flights between Dulles and London Heathrow Airport. The A380 flight is in addition to British Airways daily service using Boeing 777s.
At Reagan National, changes resulting from the divestiture of slots by the new American Airlines are taking full effect. Southwest Airlines added flights from Reagan National to Chicago Midway and Tampa on September 30 and Dallas Love Field on October 13. On November 2, Southwest will add flights more flights to Dallas Love Field and flights to Akron, Ohio; Houston; Indianapolis and St. Louis. JetBlue also is preparing to add new flights to Ft. Myers, Jacksonville and West Palm Beach, all in Florida, on December 18. Virgin America added three new daily departures to Dallas Love Field, beginning on October 13.
View the full August air statistics, for both Reagan National and Dulles International, here.
In addition to the new flights, work is underway at Reagan National to accommodate high demand for parking. In order to provide additional parking spaces for travelers, the airport is reconfiguring its parking areas to create additional Daily Garage spaces, by removing some under-used Hourly Garage spaces, and is establishing a new, credit card only Short Term surface parking lot that will offer a quick walk to the terminal buildings.
The reconfigured spaces are anticipated to be available beginning on November 1.
In addition, the airport is testing a parking reservation system that will allow customers, through the airport website, to guarantee that a parking space will be available for them at the airport before leaving home and is testing technologies that will allow customers to pay for parking using their smart phones. These added customer conveniences are expected to be available later this year.
Finally, the board heard an update on construction of the Silver Line Metrorail extension. Work to close out of Phase 1 of the project, which provides service to Wiehle Avenue in Reston, Virginia, and opened to the public in July, continues to make good progress. Construction work on Phase 2 continues to progress as well. Work on the aerial guide-way leading to the Dulles International station has begun, as has work to modify or clear structures on Dulles property to accommodate the new track. Testing and initial construction work is also underway on the ground level track along the median of the Dulles Access Highway and the Dulles Greenway.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, established in 1987 by the governments of Virginia and the District of Columbia, manages and operates Washington’s Ronald Reagan National and Dulles International airports, which together serve more than 40 million passengers a year. The Airports Authority also operates and maintains the Dulles Airport Access Road and the Dulles Toll Road and manages construction of the Silver Line project, a 23-mile extension of the Washington region’s Metrorail system into Loudoun County, Virginia. No tax dollars are used to operate the toll road, which is funded by toll revenues, or the airports, which are funded through aircraft landing fees, rents and revenues from concessions. The Silver Line construction is funded by a combination of toll-road revenues, airport contributions and federal, state and local government appropriations. The Airports Authority is led by a 17-member board of directors appointed by the governors of Virginia, Maryland, the mayor of Washington, D.C., and the president of the United States.