Hit hard by COVID-19, D.C. area airports experience slow recovery with air travel

Ella Castle

All three major local airports have been hit hard by the pandemic, but Baltimore-Washington International is recovering much faster than Reagan National and Dulles. The leader of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) told its board of directors Wednesday that things were not going as well as expected at Dulles […]

All three major local airports have been hit hard by the pandemic, but Baltimore-Washington International is recovering much faster than Reagan National and Dulles.

The leader of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) told its board of directors Wednesday that things were not going as well as expected at Dulles and Reagan.

“We are not seeing the increases that we had hoped would be happening by now,” CEO Jack Potter told the board.

After hitting rock bottom in April, the two airports had been slowly recovering. But recently that recovery has stalled.

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“Unfortunately, we’re seeing a bit of a dip right now in terms of the number of passengers coming through, and it’s something that obviously is of concern to us,” Potter said.

Meanwhile, BWI Airport, while still down significantly compared to last year, is in much better shape.

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A spokesperson tells ABC7 in June BWI saw more outbound passengers than Reagan and Dulles combined, and was the 11th busiest airport in the country.

Both MWAA and BWI attribute BWI’s recovery to the fact that a higher percentage of flyers there are going on vacation and other leisure trips.

Meanwhile, Dulles focuses on international travel and both Dulles and Reagan have a higher percentage of business travel. Neither international nor business travel has recovered as much from the pandemic as leisure travel.

Still, even BWI was down 70% in June versus June 2019.

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MWAA’s CEO said he doesn’t expect much more growth at Reagan and Dulles until COVID-19 hot spots in the U.S. die down and mandatory quarantines are done away with.

He says tourists simply aren’t coming as they would normally do with so much of D.C. shut down.

One possible ray of hope – on Friday the Smithsonian says it will reopen four more of its museums, which could help draw more tourists.

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