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Local airports expected to be at 80% of pre-pandemic levels in 2022

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Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport are likely to return to about 80 percent of 2019 passenger levels in the coming year, the CEO of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority told authority board members on Nov. 17.

“It’s going to take some time to get back back to pre-pandemic levels,” Jack Potter said, giving a brief preview of budget plans for the coming year. (The authority board will adopt the 2022 budget in December.)

The two airports combined hosted nearly 50 million passengers in 2019, split between 23.8 million at Reagan National (a record) and 24.8 million at Washington Dulles.

In 2020, which included 9.5 months wrestling with the pandemic, passenger counts had cratered to 15.9 million total, split between 7.6 million at Reagan National and 8.3 million at Dulles. The first eight months of 2021, which represent the latest data available, show an improvement, with the overall passenger count of 16.2 million up 38.1 percent from the same January-to-August period in 2020. Dulles saw the bulk of that rebound.


At the Nov. 17 meeting, authority board chairman William Sudow praised efforts of all those who have worked through the pandemic, including ongoing, and now almost complete, construction work at Reagan National representing its most significant makeover since the 1990s.

“What we have accomplished . . . really underscores the importance of our employees, our contractors. Our success is really the sum of the workers that are part of our team,” Sudow said.

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