BWI Marshall sets record for cargo; passengers rebound

The surge in online e-commerce sales has meant a surge in air cargo, and Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, which accounts for more than half the air cargo traffic in the D.C. region, set a record last year.

Commercial airline passengers also soared 68%, when compared with 2020.

In 2021, almost 619 million pounds of cargo was transported through BWI Marshall, a 4% increase from 2020. The airport’s cargo operations accounted for 55% of the total air cargo flown through the three D.C.-area airports.

July was a record month for cargo shipments at BWI Marshall, with 56.3 million pounds.

In 2019, the airport opened a 200,000-square-foot Midfield Cargo Building to handle increasing air cargo traffic.

“In recent years, we have worked to grow cargo capacity at BWI Marshall airport by attracting new airline service and building new facilities,” said Ricky Smith, the airport’s executive director. “The expansion in cargo operations is having a positive impact on the local workforce and our regional economy.”

BWI Marshall had 18.9 million commercial air passengers last year, up 68% from 2020, and it remains the busiest of our three airports for passenger traffic.

The airport, in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, has made — or is in the process of completing — several large improvement projects, including a $48 million, 55,000-square-foot, five gate expansion to Concourse A.

A $425 million Concourse A/B connector and baggage handling project will create a new direct passenger connection between the two concourses, and a $55 million restroom enhancement program is renovating restrooms across three concourses.

Southwest Airlines announced plans last fall to build its first maintenance hangar facility in the Northeast at BWI Marshall, a $135 million project being partially funded by the state.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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