Press Release

Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
1 Aviation Circle - Washington, DC 20001-6000 - (703) 417-8370 - Fax: (703) 417-8371

Tuesday, March 28, 2000

Dulles Airport Fastest Growing Of Top 50 World Airports

Of the 50 largest airports in the world, Washington Dulles International Airport was the fastest growing in 1999, according to the Airports Council International World Headquarters in Switzerland. Nearly 20 million (19,796,939) passengers used the airport in 1999. This is a four million increase in the number of passengers over 1998.

Dulles posted a 25.8% growth rate throughout 1999 which has also made it the fastest growing airport among the 30 largest U.S. airports. This double-digit rate is dramatic in comparison with the North American annual airport growth rate of 4.0% and the worldwide growth rate of 5%.

Along with passenger growth, Dulles had a significant increase in total aircraft operations – nearly a 23% increase from 1998. With nearly 470,000 operations in 1999, Dulles ranks 19th in the world in the annual number of flights.

Said Airports Authority President James A. Wilding, "There is no question that Washington Dulles International is the major air transportation hub in the mid-Atlantic region, and a key link in the world’s aviation system. We have invested almost one billion dollars in improving and adding capacity to our facilities, but that is only the beginning. The next six years at Dulles will bring significant changes and improved customer service."

Last year, the Airports Authority Board of Directors approved the concept for an underground rail system on the airport which will eventually replace the current "mobile lounge" people movers that travel above ground across the airfield from the terminal to the concourses. The increase in additional flights at the airport and the introduction of service by new airlines requires construction of additional concourses and aircraft gates and airfield improvements as well. In addition to the 8,000 new parking spaces the Airports Authority added in 1999, design is underway for the construction of the first parking garage at Dulles.

Also in 1999, a new concourse opened to serve passengers on Atlantic Coast/United Express regional flights.

According to James E. Bennett, Executive Vice President of the Airports Authority, "As a result of added facilities and our marketing efforts, we have been able to attract new airlines and enable incumbent airlines to expand their service."

New international service in 1999 included the arrival of three new airlines -- BWIA International Airways providing service to Antigua, Barbados, and Trinidad/Tobago in the Caribbean; Sabena with service to Brussels; and Swissair with a flight to Zurich. In addition, Air Canada began service from Dulles to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Also in 1999 United Airlines began to strongly position itself in East-West markets from Dulles by growing their flights by 60%. Their number of daily departures increased from 73 to 117 and included increased flights to 13 domestic cities: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago O’Hare, Denver, Hartford, Los Angeles, Miami, New York LaGuardia, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Tampa. They also added international service to San Juan, Puerto Rico and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

On the domestic air service front, new developments included the arrival of two new airlines, Midwest Express, with service to Milwaukee and Sun Country, with service to Minneapolis.

The continuing growth in the high tech market around the Dulles Corridor has also encouraged additional service from United Express and US Airways. Dulles continues to offer new jet service to more destinations as the airlines replace smaller planes with the regional jet aircraft.

50 Busiest World Airports
30 Busiest US Airports
Passenger Growth Rate * 
Passenger Growth Rate*
1.  Dulles  25.8% 
1.  Dulles  25.8%
2. Kimpo, South Korea  13.4% 
2. BWI  16.7%
3. Charles DeGaulle, Paris  12.9% 
3. Minneapolis-St. Paul  12.7%
4. Minneapolis-St. Paul  12.7% 
4. McCarran, Las Vegas  11.4%
5. McCarran, Las Vegas  11.4%
5. Tampa  9.4%

 *Airports Council International