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Baltimore International Airport - Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport - History of Baltimore International Airport

Serving the DC-Baltimore Area

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The primary airport serving the Baltimore, Maryland metropolitan area is the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. Now a “focus city” for Southwest Airlines, the airport is about 10 miles south of downtown Baltimore and 30 miles northeast of Washington, D.C. Therefore, in addition to the Baltimore area, the airport also serves the Washington D.C. metro area. The International Air Transport Association code for the airport is BWI.

History of Baltimore International Airport

The airport was dedicated on June 24, 1950 by President Harry S. Truman. Then known as Friendship International Airport, it was renamed Baltimore/Washington International Airport in 1973. The airport underwent a $70 million remodel and modernization project from 1974-1979. In this project, the runways were improved and the size of the terminal was more than doubled, and a rail station opened at the airport in 1980. On October 1, 2005, the airport was renamed Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. Marshall, the first African-American U.S. Supreme Court Justice, was a native of Baltimore. That same year, concourses A and B underwent a major renovation to better accommodate Southwest Airlines.

Service, Features, and Transportation at Baltimore International Airport

Although the main carrier at the airport until the mid-to-late 1990s was US Airways, financial issues forced the airline to cut its service at BWI. Now, the main carrier at the airport is Southwest Airlines. Of the five concourses at the airport, two of them (concourses A and B) are used exclusively by Southwest and over 50% of the passengers at the airport in 2008 were Southwest passengers. Since it arrived at the airport in the early 1990s, the low-fare service offered by Southwest has made BWI a hub for discount airlines. It is now a secondary hub for AirTran airlines. Some of the other low-fare carriers that have a presence at the airport include JetBlue and USA3000. Other major carriers that operate flights at BWI include US Airways, Delta, Continental, and United. Most of the international flights at the airport come through concourse E, known as The Governor William Donald Schaefer International Terminal. Schaefer is a former Democratic mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland. The US Air Force Air Mobility Command also operates frequent flights from the airport.

Although there are many area hotels, the Sheraton Four Points hotel is located on the airport grounds.

In 2007, Aviation.com ranked BWI one of the “Top 10 Easiest U.S. Airports to Get To.” Passengers have the options of taking rail, bus, or car to and from the airport. Passengers wishing to take light rail into the Baltimore city center can catch trains every 20 to 30 minutes and can find a schedule at the Maryland Transportation Authority website. Bus passengers can catch the MTA’s Route 17 bus into Baltimore at the light rail station. Those wishing to get to Washington D.C. can take the WMATA Metrobus Route B30 every 40 minutes from 6am-10pm weekdays and from 9am-10pm on weekends.

In 2008, BWI was named the second-healthiest airport in the US by Health Magazine. In a survey conducted by the Airports Council International in 2009, the airport was rated #1 in service quality among airports with 15-to-25 million passengers per year.

Operations at Baltimore International Airport

In 2008, the airport averaged 761 aircraft takeoffs and landings per day. It is the 24th busiest airport in North America.

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