Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority

Dulles International Airport

About D2

Background

When Washington Dulles International Airport opened in 1962, it was the first U.S. airport built for commercial jet aircraft. Airline travelers were in a distinct minority, and “those flying machines” at the Airport were seen as an exotic form of transportation to far away places. But increases in passenger jet travel made aviation a prominent fixture of the nation’s economy.

By the late 1980’s, Dulles International began setting the pace for growth in the region. Over the next decade, that growth accelerated. From 1995 to 1998, passengers using the Airport increased by 28 percent--from 12.5 to nearly 16 million. In 1999, Dulles was the fastest growing airport in the country with an annual growth rate of 25.7%, compared to the industry average growth rate of 2.9%. In 2000, the Airport surpassed the 20 million passenger mark. In 2003, even with the reduction in air travel following September 11, 2001, Dulles served 17 million passengers and in 2006, the number topped 23 million. Today Dulles continues to surpass its own records for passenger travel.

The airlines have taken note of the remarkable growth in the Washington region and the resulting increased demand for air service and expanded their presence at Dulles International. Today’s traveler can fly to 44 different foreign destinations and 80 U.S. cities from Dulles. To support this level of service, about 20,000 people are employed at the airport and thousands more have jobs closely associated with airport activities.

Construction History - Late 1980's-1990's

During Dulles Airport’s early years, the facilities met or exceeded demand. Aircraft parked away from the Main Terminal, and flights were met by “Mobile Lounges” which transported passengers above the ground. In the mid-1980’s a temporary Midfield Concourse was built to allow more aircraft to use gates with jet bridges. Mobile Lounge service began operations between the Main Terminal and this new Concourse. As passenger levels grew, so did the investment in airport infrastructure.

From 1987, when the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority was created, through 1999, the Airports Authority invested $1.5 billion in an expansion program which doubled the size of the Main Terminal, added two permanent Midfield Concourses, expanded Customs and Immigration facilities, modernized ticket counter and baggage claim space, improved the roadways, and added cargo facilities.

“D2” Phase of Dulles Construction Begins

Growth projections for both passengers and aircraft operations highlighted the need for even more airport facilities in the future. In 2000, the Airports Authority Board of Directors approved a second phase of capital investment which is called D2, the Dulles Development program.

Completed D2 projects include two new Daily Parking Garages, passenger walkways with moving sidewalks connecting the garages to the Main Terminal and connecting the Main Terminal to Concourse B, reconstruction of Runway 12-30, new permanent Z-gates at the Terminal, an expansion of Concourse B, a fourth runway, the AeroTrain system, multiple roadway improvements, the renovation of the original 1962 Eero Saarinen-designed terminal, including improved ticketing counters and new baggage claim devices and the construction of a new Airport Traffic Control Tower for the Federal Aviation Administration.

 

“D2” Into the Future

Future D2 projects call for expanding the Z-gates, expanding the International Arrivals Building in the Main Terminal, constructing a fifth runway, and building a new permanent Concourse beyond the present location of Concourse C and D. Dulles is in a constant state of evolution and improvement. The challenge for the Airports Authority is to continue to keep pace with growth in air service and meet the future traveling needs of the Washington region.