BWI, Maryland’s growing international gateway

Demand for low-cost international travel is surging and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the growing market.

“We are very optimistic about the future here at BWI. Prospects are very positive for international growth,” said Jonathan Dean, manager of the division of communications at BWI.

Over the past five years, the number of international passengers using BWI has nearly doubled. And in each of the past two years, international passengers have increased by roughly 20 percent. According to Dean, the airport’s ability to better serve these global travelers rests on two major developments already underway at BWI: New airline partnerships and international destinations, and a major construction project that will expand the airport’s capacity for global flights.

BWI has made forging new partnerships with airlines and expanding destinations a priority in recent years, Dean said. The airport recently welcomed WOW air, which will begin offering budget-friendly non-stop service from Baltimore to Reykjavik, Iceland this summer. Also beginning this summer, Condor Airlines has announced that it will add a third weekly flight to Frankfurt, Germany. British Airways also plans to continue its daily non-stop service to London Heathrow.

Over the past year, BWI received a major boost in international service with Southwest Airlines‘ decision to launch its first-ever international service out of the airport. In July 2014, Southwest offered its first flight to Montego Bay, Jamaica, followed by the announcement of five additional tourist destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean.

“BWI is one of the largest airports in the Southwest system. and we are their largest East Coast operation. We are in a natural position to help the airline expand its international product,” Dean said. 

“Part of why Southwest chose BWI is our longstanding reputation as a low-fare gateway. We have worked with Southwest for more than 20 years now to grow its domestic product, and they have certainly helped our airport to grow,” he added. 

As BWI expands its destinations, it’s also planning extensive renovations as part of its D/E Connector Program. The program will create a new security checkpoint to serve domestic and international travelers, construct a new secure connector between Concourse D and Concourse E, and configure airline gates to support additional international flights.

The Maryland Board of Public Works approved the main construction package in March 2014. Arriving passengers could access the renovated areas as early as 2016.

“This construction contract is another great example that Maryland is open for business,” Governor Larry Hogan said in a statement last month. “By investing in BWI, we are creating jobs and growing the State’s economy with a key project that will meet the increasing demands of expanded international and domestic travel for years to come.”

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