BWI Marshall Airport. (Maryland Aviation Administration photo)

The head of BWI Thurgood Marshall is optimistic that passenger traffic will return to pre-pandemic levels.

Ricky Smith, executive director and CEO of the Maryland Aviation Administration, said fiscal 2023’s traffic was at 92.5% of fiscal 2019 levels as he addressed the BWI Business Partnership’s Transportation Think Tank (or T3) at COPT Defense Properties at Airport Square, in Linthicum.

BWI Marshall accommodated 24.7 million passengers in fiscal 2023 and Smith spoke of the rebound in the travel industry potentially bringing that numbers back to 26.7 million, which was the last pre-pandemic count in fiscal 2019. Most of those flyers boarded Southwest Airlines flights, as they accounted for 73.5% of passenger traffic, with Spirit second at just 7.3%. Smith also cited the continued rise of the International Terminal, with 1.25 million passengers last year.

He also discussed the $780 million in projects that are to be included in the airport’s six-year capital program, such as the C-D connector and a new air traffic control tower; there are 16 projects that will cost $210 million slated for fiscal 2024 and $350 million for fiscal 2025.

He cited BWI Marshall as “the 22nd busiest airport” in the U.S. and the most dominant in the region, with 36% of the market; Reagan National Airport is second with 33% and Dulles International Airport ranks third with 31%.
As for challenges, Smith cited the ongoing issues with noise in BWI Marshall’s flight paths and more competition from growing Reagan National.