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ArlingtonTransportationLocal airports clawing back to pre-COVID passenger totals

Local airports clawing back to pre-COVID passenger totals

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Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport wrapped up the first half of the year in its strongest position, passenger-wise, since the pandemic, while Washington Dulles International Airport is still waiting to regain all the passengers it had before COVID struck.

Reagan National’s passenger count of 2,174,786 this June was up slightly from the 2,101,825 passengers that moved through its terminals in June 2019, according to figures reported Aug. 22 by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and analyzed by the Sun Gazette.

Washington Dulles, however, remained below its pre-pandemic passenger total, with the 2,033,559 passengers using its facilities in June 2022 still well below the 2,390,158 of June 2019.

Both airports, however, were well ahead of June 2021 figures, when travel had started to rebound from COVID. Reagan National’s June 2022 passenger total was up 63 percent from a year before, while Dulles’s total was up 57 percent from 2021.

At Reagan National, dominant American Airlines saw a 39-percent year-over-year increase to 1.17 million passengers and held a 54-percent market share when both mainline and regional-affiliate passengers are counted.

Southwest Airlines saw its passenger count up 92 percent from a year before to 316,000, flipping spots with Delta (up 65 percent to 282,000), which a year ago had held down the second position.

Rounding out the top five were United Airlines (catapulting from sixth to fourth with a 302-percent increase to 155,000 passengers) and JetBlue, which saw its passenger count up 162 percent to 154,000.

Reagan National is one of the few airports in the country where takeoff and landing slots are managed by the federal government and must either be used by the airlines that hold them or returned. From the onset of the pandemic until September 2021, those rules were waived, but starting last September, airlines needed to either start using all their allotted slots or risk losing them – which in part explains the huge rebounds from the likes of Southwest, United and JetBlue.

At Washington Dulles, United Airlines maintained its dominance at 66.8 percent of all passengers, with its year-over-year count rising 47 percent to 1,358,662 in June 2022.

Delta was second, up 14.4 percent to 87,484 for the month, with American third, up 62.1 percent to 45,304.

Lufthansa’s passenger count of 43,783 was up a whopping 323 percent, placing the German carrier in fourth spot overall at Dulles.

Lufthansa’s increase was mirrored by other international carriers as the world began opening up to travel once again:

• British Airways saw a 496-percent increase in Dulles passenger activity from June 2021 to June 2022 at Dulles.

• Air France’s increase was 228 percent.

• Korean Air saw an increase of 181 percent.

United Airlines’ international service reported a 177-percent increase in passenger activity.

While Reagan National has a very small international footprint, the year-over-year increase in non-domestic travel was up 670 percent, owing to resumption of service to Canada by both Air Canada and American Airlines.

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