The Washington Post recently wrote about the woes of Dulles International Airport:

A recent study found that Dulles generated more than $1.2 billion in tax revenue and nearly $10 billion in labor income. More than 19,000 people work at Dulles, but nearly 250,000 jobs are tied to the airport, according to the study, commissioned by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

“The shift to National — it’s a serious problem for the financial viability of Dulles,” said Jonathan Gifford, director of the Center for Transportation Public-Private Partnership Policy at George Mason University.

The MWAA needs both airports to succeed for its bottom line, but in its version of a perfect world, Dulles would be booming. Instead, the explosive growth at National is creating headaches for the authority. From a steep rise in noise complaints from nearby Arlington County residents to concourses so crowded that passengers say they feel like sardines, authority officials are scrambling to find more space at a facility that has little to spare.

We’re significantly closer to Dulles than we are to Reagan National (DCA) or Baltimore-Washington (BWI). When we moved here, we figured that it would mostly be Dulles that we would fly out of, but I think we’ve only been there once. We’ve used BWI twice, and DCA four or five times. Reagan is a notably small airport, the smallest major airport I’ve used. I’ve ever flown in and out of. Which is actually kind of convenient, in some respects, because we invariably end up at whatever gate is farthest down the way. But it would be more convenient to cut a half-hour off our drive and avoid DC entirely, which would be the case with Dulles. I would think with the growth of NoVA and the suburbs of DC extending further and further out that there would be more use for an airport that wasn’t located right in the thick of things, and that Dulles wouldn’t need the congressional meddling it’s apparently relied on.

But that’s apparently not the case.

Meanwhile, WaPo asks what to call the airport that isn’t Dulles or BWI. It’s a contentious issue, as Ronald Reagan is Ronald Reagan, some question the decision to name the airport after him, and a lot of liberals and air traffic controllers refuse to call it by that name.

We just call it DCA, though apparently we don’t count as “Washington Area” on their survey because we’re not in one of the listed counties. Which itself is strange, because for purposes of this survey the relevant demographic should be those who actually fly out of the airport.


Category: Road

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3 Responses to Washington Airports

  1. A few people are hoping that the construction of the Silver Line to the airport changes things, but as the article notes, if the cheap flights are still at BWI and to a lesser extent, DCA, and those airports are seen as easier to use, then even that may not help. Yes, there’s sizable growth in the area near Dulles, but aren’t most of those businesses oriented toward the DC area’s main asset, the federal government? They don’t have the same need to have business travel, and even business travelers are hemmed in about choices on flight cost and airport convenience.

    FWIW, I have a friend that lived in Maryland, and she used Philadelphia for her international flights over Dulles.

  2. trumwill says:

    The Philly airport is actually closer to us than the Deseret airport was when we were in Arapaho.

    • David Alexander says:

      I guess I’m spoiled in having JFK within thirty minutes of my house, as the idea of driving so far to an airport is strange to me…

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