A continued rise in domestic airline activity at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, combined with growth in domestic and international service at Washington Dulles International Airport, drove an overall increase in passengers for 2015 for the two airports serving the nation’s capital. As the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board of Directors reported at its monthly meeting on Wednesday, the two-airport system served 44.7 million passengers for the year – an increase of 5.4 percent compared with 2014 and the second-highest overall passenger total in the history of the Airports Authority.
Reagan National served a record 23 million passengers, eclipsing the previous year’s total by more than 10 percent. Much of that growth stemmed from the 2014 divestiture of airline slots – federal limits on the number of flights that can take off and land at the airport – that accompanied the merger of American Airlines with U.S. Airways. Following the divestiture, airlines at Reagan National have maximized the slots they control to carry more passengers, on larger aircraft, than were flown prior to the merger. To address congestion resulting from that growth, the airport is planning a $1 billion capital improvement project to improve passenger terminal flow and enclose 14 existing outdoor airline gates.
For the 12th consecutive year, international traffic grew at Dulles International – setting a new record of 7.2 million passengers in 2015. Overall, the airport served 21.7 million passengers for the year – a modest increase over 2014, beating forecasts which suggested a down year for the airport and reversing four years of consecutive annual declines. In 2015, new airlines Alaska Airlines and Aer Lingus began flights, British Airways up-gauged to the double-decker Airbus A380, South African Airways began new service to Accra and Lufthansa increased service to Munich. Domestic cargo at Dulles scored a turnaround in 2015, as tonnage increased 4 percent. The airport is positioned for continued growth as demand increases.
The Airports Authority has focused its efforts on improving the competitiveness of Dulles International by reducing costs to the airlines that serve it and correcting structural imbalances between the two airports that have resulted in record growth at Reagan National at the expense of Dulles International. This will continue to be the focus of the Airports Authority in 2016.
International air service continues to expand at Dulles. 2016 has already witnessed a third airline, Emirates, up-gauging to Airbus A380 service. In the coming months, three new airlines will begin new nonstop service with Air Canada to Toronto, LATAM to Lima and Royal Air Maroc to Casablanca. United’s seasonal service will return to Barcelona and Lisbon.
The full 2015 travel statistics for Reagan National and Dulles International can be found here.
2016 will feature the construction of a new, expanded automobile fueling station and convenience store at Dulles International, plus the opening of more new stores and restaurants at both Reagan and Dulles to enhance the customer travel experience. A new Dulles Airport station along the Silver Line will continue to take shape as the Metrorail construction project progresses.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority operates Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, the Dulles Airport Access Highway and the Dulles Toll Road and also manages construction of the Silver Line project, a 23-mile extension of the Washington region’s Metrorail public transit system through Fairfax County and into Loudoun County, Virginia. More than 44 million passengers a year pass through the two airports. The Airports Authority generates more than 387,000 jobs in the National Capital Region.