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Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport

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Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport
Airline terminal with air traffic control tower in the background
Airport type Public
Owner Maryland Aviation Administration
Serves Baltimore–Washington Metropolitan Area
Location Anne Arundel County, near Glen Burnie, Maryland
Hub for AirTran Airways
Focus city for
Elevation AMSL 146 ft / 45 m
Coordinates 39°10′31″N 076°40′06″W / 39.17528°N 76.66833°W / 39.17528; -76.66833Coordinates: 39°10′31″N 076°40′06″W / 39.17528°N 76.66833°W / 39.17528; -76.66833

FAA airport diagram
Location within Maryland
Direction Length Surface
ft m
4/22 6,000 1,829 Asphalt
10/28 10,502 3,201 Asphalt
15L/33R 5,000 1,524 Asphalt
15R/33L 9,501 2,896 Asphalt
Number Length Surface
ft m
H1 100 30 Asphalt
Statistics (2011)
Passengers 22,391,785
Aircraft operations 275,953
Based aircraft 73 (2,010)
Cargo 237,568,354 lbs
Source: Federal Aviation Administration[1] and BWI Airport.[2]

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (IATA: BWIICAO: KBWIFAA LID: BWI) is an international airport serving the Baltimore–Washington Metropolitan Area in the United States. It is commonly referred to as BWI or BWI Marshall. Located adjacent to the Linthicum CDP[3] in northern unincorporated Anne Arundel County, Maryland, the airport is about 10 miles (16 km) south of Baltimore[4] and 32 miles (51 km) northeast of Washington, D.C.[5] It is named after Thurgood Marshall, a Baltimore native and the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States.

BWI is a focus city for Southwest Airlines,[6] and is the busiest airport in the Baltimore–Washington Metropolitan Area.[7] A record 21.9 million passengers traveled through BWI in 2010,[8] an increase of 4.7% over the previous year,[8] with July being the busiest month ever in the airport's history.[9] This made BWI the 24th busiest airport of North America in 2010.[10] The airport was also ranked 47th in the world in total aircraft movements in 2008.[11]

In 2010, BWI was ranked as the best airport of its size (15–25 mil. passengers) in the world by the Airports Council International based on its 2009 Airport Service Quality survey.[12] The airport also won second place for North American airports in the "Best Food and Beverage Program" of the 2010 Richard A. Griesbach Excellence in Airport Concessions Contest, sponsored by the Airports Council International.[13]


Planning for a new airport on 3,200 acres (1,300 ha) to serve the Baltimore/Washington area began just after the end of World War II. Ground was broken in 1947.[14] Located in Anne Arundel County, Maryland next to the site where Friendship Methodist Church stood until 1948,[15] Friendship International Airport was dedicated on June 24, 1950, by President Harry Truman. The following month the airlines moved to the new airport from Baltimore Municipal Airport (southeast of Baltimore at 39°15′N 76°32′W / 39.25°N 76.53°W / 39.25; -76.53). The Official Airline Guide for April 1957 shows 52 weekday departures: 19 Eastern, 12 Capital, 8 American, 4 National, 3 TWA, 3 United, 2 Delta, and 1 Allegheny. Miami had a couple of nonstops, but westward nonstop flights did not reach beyond Ohio; Baltimore's reach expanded when jet service started in 1958–59. The early Boeing 707s and Douglas DC-8s could not use Washington National and Dulles did not exist until 1962, so Baltimore became Washington's jet airport, with transcontinental flights.[16]

The State of Maryland, through the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), purchased Friendship International Airport from the City of Baltimore for $36 million in 1972. Under MDOT, the Maryland State Aviation Administration took over airfield operations and grew from three employees to more than 200. Plans to upgrade, improve, and modernize all Maryland airport facilities were announced almost immediately by the Secretary of Transportation, Harry Hughes. To attract passengers from the Washington area, the airport was renamed Baltimore/Washington International Airport in 1973.[17]

The first phase of BWI modernization was completed in 1974 at a cost of $30 million. Upgrades included improved instrument landing capabilities and runway systems, and construction of three new air cargo terminals, expanding the airport's freight capacity to 2.53 acres (1.02 ha).[17]

The passenger terminal renovation program was complete in 1979, the most dramatic work of the airport's modernization, which was designed by DMJM along with Peterson & Brickbauer.[18] The BWI terminal more than doubled in size to 14.58 acres (59,000 m2); the number of gate positions increased from 20 to 27. The total cost of project was $70 million. To continue the work, the BWI Development Council was established to support initiatives for airport development.[17]

The BWI Rail Station opened in 1980, providing a rail connection to passengers on the busy Northeast Corridor though Amtrak. BWI became the first airport in the U.S. to be served by a dedicated intercity rail station.[19] In particular, the station provided relatively easy transit access to Washington, D.C., something Washington Dulles International Airport currently lacks. In 1997, a new international terminal (Concourse E), designed by STV Group and William Nicholas Bodouva & Associates,[20] was added,[21] though Dulles continues to hold the lion's share of the region's international flights, and BWI has not attracted many long-haul international carriers. British Airways has had a presence at BWI for many years. AerLingus, Air Jamaica, Air Aruba, Air Greenland, El Al, Ghana Airways, Icelandair, KLM, Ladeco, and Mexicana previously flew to BWI. Military flights, operated by the U.S. Air Force's Air Mobility Command, continue to have a significant presence at BWI.

Beginning in the 1980s, and later for much of the 1990s, BWI was a major hub for Piedmont Airlines and successor US Airways, but that airline's financial difficulties in the wake of the dot-com bust, the September 11 attacks, and intense low fare competition forced it to significantly reduce its presence at the airport. The airport has been a major haven for low-cost flights in the Baltimore/Washington Metropolitan Area since Southwest Airlines' arrival in September 1993[22] and subsequent expansion in the early 2000s. Southwest is the airport's largest carrier, accounting for 56.12% of passengers carried in 2011.[23] Along with subsidiary AirTran Airways, Southwest Holdings currently serves on average 245 daily departures to destinations in the US, Mexico and the Caribbean.

To accommodate Southwest's extensive presence at the airport, in 2005 Concourses A and B were expanded, renovated, and integrated with one another to house all of that airline's operations there. This new facility, designed by URS Corporation, opened on May 22, 2005. On October 1 of that year, the airport was renamed again, to Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, to honor the former US Supreme Court justice, who grew up in Baltimore.[24][25]

The airport has been a backdrop in numerous films, including The Silence of the Lambs, Goldfinger, Broadcast News, and Twelve Monkeys.

In late 2008, Health magazine named BWI the second healthiest airport in the United States.[26] In 2009 the airport had a six percent increase in air travelers due to the proliferation of discount flights.[27] In a 2009 survey of airport service quality by Airports Council International, BWI was the world's top ranking airport in the 15-to-25-million-passenger category.[28] BWI also ranked seventh, in medium sized airports, based on customer satisfaction conducted by J.D Power and Associates.[29]


Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport has five concourses, though Concourses A and B were essentially merged into a single concourse in the renovations completed in 2005.[24] The Maryland Aviation Administration has its headquarters on the third floor of the terminal building.[30]

Passenger concourses

Concourses A and B have 26 gates: A1 to A11 and B1 to B15.
Southwest Airlines is the only tenant of Concourses A and both Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways share Concourse B.

Concourse C has 14 gates: C1 to C14.
The tenants of the concourse are AirTran Airways, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Spirit Airlines. Concourse C is connected to Concourses A/B by a secure connector.

Concourse D has 38 gates: D1 to D5, D7, D8, D10 to D16, D21 to D42, D46, and D47.
It serves Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, US Airways, and United Airlines. The far end of Concourse D is built at ground level to serve small regional planes. Gates D30-D35 are blocked off to passengers with a temporary wall.

Concourse E has 6 gates: E1 to E4, E6, and E8.
Officially known as the Governor William Donald Schaefer International Terminal, it serves Air Canada Express, AirTran Airways (international arrivals that are not pre-cleared), British Airways, and Condor. All international arrivals from non pre-cleared destinations and all charter airlines are handled at Concourse E. The Air Mobility Command has a post in Concourse E flying active service troops out to worldwide destinations.

Cargo concourse

The airport's cargo concourse covers a 395,000 sq ft (36,700 m2) area. Its facilities include a 60,000 sq ft (5,600 m2) cargo building in the Midfield Cargo Complex, a foreign trade zone, a 17 acres (6.9 ha) air cargo ramp, and ramp parking for 17 aircraft with direct nose-in access for 8 freighters.

Airline lounges

  • British Airways contracts the Chesapeake Club Lounge in Concourse E, near entrance to the concourse, for use by its elite and Club World passengers.
  • The USO operates a lounge on the lower level of the Terminal between Concourses D and E for United States military personnel and their families.
  • Airspace Lounge opened on May 7, 2011.[31]

Terminal Improvements

Currently improvements are being made to widen concourse C to accommodate new security screening equipment. Concourse C will be given the level of amenities found at the A and B concourses in approximately 8,500 square feet (790 m2) of new food and retail space. On June 11, 2012, BWI began construction renovating and expanding Concourse C. Completion of the project is expected in the summer of 2013.[32][33][34] On April 30, 2013, the airport opened the new concourse C security checkpoint, with nine security lanes, the most at the airport, as well as a new concourse A/B-C connector.[35]

The Federal Aviation Administration is currently in the process of designing a new air traffic control tower that will replace the current tower.[36] The new tower is estimated to cost between $21 million and $26 million and be 228 feet tall.[37] There is no estimated start date.

On July 12, 2013 BWI Airport and the Maryland Aviation Administration launched a 3-year $125 million construction project. This project will include modernizing concourse D, a new secure connection post security linking concourse D and E, and the new configuration of the concourses will allow 2 gates on concourse D to serve both domestic and international flights. The project is scheduled to begin in late 2014 with an estimated completion date of fall 2016.[38]

Airlines and destinations

Passenger airlines

Charter airlines

Cargo airlines

Operations and statistics

With winds from the north or west, aircraft will generally land on runway 33L and depart on runway 28. When the winds are from the south or east, arrivals are on runway 10 and departures are on runway 15R. Use of the smaller parallel runway (33R/15L) is restricted to smaller propeller-driven aircraft and small corporate jets. Runway 4/22 is closed for landings and takeoffs; however it is used for taxing and turnoffs. The largest planes that land at BWI regularly are Boeing 757s, McDonnell Douglas MD-11s, and Boeing 767s. Because of the many cargo and charter operations at BWI, it's common to see one or two Boeing 747's or Airbus A330's on a daily basis as well. Runway 10/28 will be closed for a 60-day period beginning August 20, 2012 to update and implement safety requirement established by the Federal Aviation Administration.

For the 12-month period ending December 31, 2011, the airport had 276,133 aircraft operations, an average of 757 per day: 93% air carrier, 6% general aviation and less than 1% military operations. In 2009, there were 75 aircraft based at the airport: 45 single engine, 19 multi-engine, and 11 jets.[1]

Southwest Airlines, including its subsidiary AirTran Airways, represents approximately 72% of passengers followed by Delta Air Lines at 6%.

BWI is currently the busiest airport within the Baltimore–Washington area[7] with 11,067,317 boardings in 2011. This is ahead of Dulles International Airport at 11,043,829 enplanements and in front of Ronald Reagan National Airport with 9,053,004 enplanements. BWI serves the most domestic passengers in the Baltimore–Washington area while Dulles serves more international passengers.

Busiest domestic routes from BWI (April 2012–March 2013)[39]
Rank City Passengers Airline(s)
1 Atlanta, Georgia 816,000 AirTran, Delta, Southwest
2 Boston, Massachusetts 526,000 AirTran, JetBlue, Southwest
3 Charlotte, North Carolina 491,000 AirTran, US Airways
4 Orlando, Florida 471,000 AirTran, Southwest
5 Fort Lauderdale, Florida 407,000 AirTran, Southwest, Spirit
6 Detroit, Michigan 348,000 Delta, Southwest
7 Providence, Rhode Island 310,000 Southwest
8 Tampa, Florida 308,000 AirTran, Southwest
9 Manchester, New Hampshire 276,000 Southwest
10 Denver, Colorado 274,000 Southwest, United
Traffic by calendar year[40]
Passengers Change from previous year Aircraft operations Cargo
2006 20,698,967 266,790 252,413,171
2007 21,044,384 Increase1.67% 265,424 254,701,295
2008 20,488,881 Decrease2.64% 249,456 225,275,286
2009 20,953,615 Increase2.27% 245,522 221,302,348
2010 21,936,461 Increase4.69% 253,165 225,706,183
2011 22,391,785 Increase2.08% 258,475 237,568,354

Ground transportation

BWI was ranked one of the "Top 10 Easiest U.S. Airports to Get to" by in 2007 and has a light rail station located in its main terminal.[42]

Shuttle services, taxis, and buses

Passenger van service to and from the Central and Western Maryland.

Bus service between BWI and the Greenbelt station of the Washington Metro and MARC Camden Line is provided by WMATA's Metrobus on Route B30 every 40 minutes 6am-10pm weekdays and 9am-10pm on weekends. The regular fare is $6.00 and the disabled/senior citizens rate is $3.00.

The Maryland Transit Administration's Bus Route 17 serves BWI 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. During the hours when the Light Rail operates, buses operate to the Patapsco Light Rail Stop. When the Light Rail is not in service, buses operate to Downtown Baltimore.

MTA Commuter Bus route 201 connects BWI with Arundel Mills, Burtonsville, Norbeck, Shady Grove station, and Gaithersburg. Buses operate once an hour (4am-6pm eastbound, 5am-11pm westbound), seven days a week. Fare is $5.00.

Howard Transit's Silver route operates between BWI and The Mall in Columbia hourly at most times except overnight.


BWI is located at the southeast terminus of Interstate 195, a spur route providing connections to the Baltimore–Washington Parkway and Interstate 95.


BWI Rail Station is located about a mile from the airport terminal; a free shuttle bus connects the train station and airport terminals. The station is served by Amtrak Northeast Corridor trains and, on weekdays, by the MARC Penn Line. Travel time by train is about ten minutes to Baltimore's Penn Station and thirty-five minutes to Union Station in Washington, D.C. Trains depart at least once an hour seven days a week, with departure times during rush hours and business hours being significantly more frequent.[43]

The Maryland Transit Administration's Light Rail line has a stop just outside the entrance to the airport's International Terminal. Passengers can take the Light Rail to a variety of destinations in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, and Baltimore County, and can transfer to the Metro Subway in Baltimore, or to either of MARC's Baltimore terminals. A ride downtown takes approximately 30 minutes. Trains run every 20 minutes during peak hours, and 30 minutes all other times.[44]

In June 2007, the Maryland Department of Transportation, at the request of the Maryland General Assembly in 2006, commissioned a report on a proposal to extend the Washington Metro Green Line, from its current terminus at Greenbelt, through Howard County to BWI.[45]


External links

  • Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport
  • BWI Business Partnership
  • BWI Development Council
  • BWI 60th anniv
  • PDF), effective July 24, 2014
  • Resources for this airport:
    • AirNav airport information for KBWI
    • ASN accident history for BWI
    • FlightAware live flight tracker
    • NOAA/NWS latest weather observations
    • SkyVector aeronautical chart for KBWI
    • FAA current BWI delay information
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