Study: Washington’s Airports Are Key Economic Drivers, Responsible for 4.5% of Regional Economy

Published: May 21, 2014

New Study Highlights the Full Impact of Reagan National Airport, 
Dulles International Airport, Dulles Toll Road and Silver Line Project



A new study, released on Wednesday, reveals the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s operations are responsible for more than 4.5 percent of the National Capital Region’s annual gross domestic product (GDP), generating or supporting more than 387,000 jobs, $15 billion in labor income, $1.9 billion in state and local taxes, and $21 billion in business revenue.

The independent study, commissioned by the Airports Authority and led by Willdan Financial and Economic Consulting Services (with a foreword by George Mason economist Stephen Fuller) examined available 2012 data and focused on the impact of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, the Dulles Toll Road and the Silver Line project on jobs, visitor spending, state and local taxes, and business revenue. The results (available here) show the Airports Authority’s enterprises, particularly Washington’s Airports, remain a leading driver of the region’s economy.

“Whether it’s tourism, business travel or the flow of goods and services, Washington’s airports are a vital component of the economy,” said Airports Authority President and CEO Jack Potter. “You need only look at the rapid residential and commercial development of what had been farmland along the Dulles Corridor and surrounding Dulles International to understand just how important the airports are. And that development is accelerating with the construction of the Silver Line.”

Employment and economic impact from Airports Authority operations are spread across the Commonwealth of Virginia, the District of Columbia and Maryland. In 2012, the airports, the Toll Road and the Silver Line Project generated more than 200,000 jobs and $8.2 billion of labor income in Virginia, more than 120,000 jobs and $4.6 billion of labor income in the District of Columbia, and more than 60,000 jobs and $2.6 billion of labor income in Maryland.

Washington’s Airports Economic Impact:


Jobs Onsite

Total Jobs Generated

Labor Income

Taxes Generated

Dulles International



$9.95 billion

$1.2 billion

Reagan National



$4.68 billion

$634.4 million

Dulles Corridor Enterprise Economic Impact:


Total Jobs Generated

Labor Income

Taxes Generated

Dulles Toll Road


$48.2 million

$5.0 million

Silver Line Project


$681.3 million

$76.7 million

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, established in 1987 by the governments of Virginia and the District of Columbia, manages and operates Ronald Reagan Washington National and Washington 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, Va. 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, and generates more than 387,000 jobs and 4.5 percent of GDP in the National Capital Region.