State and local elected officials, as well as business and community leaders, joined the leadership team of Washington Dulles International Airport to discuss ongoing efforts taken to strengthen the competitive status of the airport at Dulles Matters II on Wednesday.
“Dulles is our gateway to the world,” said Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne, who delivered the keynote address. “I believe now that we are on a sustainable path for growth of Dulles International Airport.”
The event at Dulles International Airport built on other summits over the past 24 months to promote collaboration and cooperation across sectors to support the airport in light of recent shifts in passengers from Dulles to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Dulles Matters II included presentations highlighting the successes of initial—including cost-cutting, revenue enhancements, additional air service, and a commitment of $50 million from the Commonwealth of Virginia—which have resulted in an almost 33 percent reduction in expected cost-per-enplanement at Dulles, the metric by which airlines compare the costs of operating at airports around the world.
“We needed a multi-layered plan to address the challenges the airport faced,” said Jack Potter, president and CEO of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which manages Dulles International and Reagan National airports. “We recognize the role the airport plays; but we also recognize that we are part of a team. We will work with anyone who can help the cause.”
In addition to remarks by Secretary Layne and Potter, remarks from Loudoun County Supervisor Vice Chairman Ralph Buona and a panel discussion with tourism, business and airline leaders highlighted the important role the airport plays in the regional, as well as the local, economy. In particular, the connection and access Dulles International provides to international markets and cargo are key to business development.
“The number one reason Dulles is here is because it is an economic hub,” Buona said. “Dulles is an economic engine.”
Serving more than 7 million international and more than 13 million domestic passengers annually, Dulles generates nearly 250,000 jobs for the National Capital Region, resulting in nearly $10 billion in labor income. Economic development provided by the airport has helped the Dulles Corridor, the region of Northern Virginia anchored by the connectivity provided by Dulles International Airport and running to downtown Washington, D.C., has become one of the fastest growing regions in the country.
The construction of the Silver Line Metrorail extension, which will connect Dulles Airport and Loudoun County to downtown Washington, D.C., was also touted as a significant ‘game-changer’ for economic development for the region and increased passengers for the airport. Once planned commercial construction surrounding the Silver Line is completed, the Dulles Corridor will become the fourth-largest business center in the nation, with commercial square footage exceeding that of Atlanta, Houston, Boston and Los Angeles.
The formal speaking program was followed by breakout sessions focusing on opportunities for partnership in concessions, land development, advocacy and air service development.
Presentations and additional information from Dulles Matters II can be found online here.
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.