The Maryland Board of Public Works unanimously approved a construction package for major terminal improvements at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to accommodate growth and enhance the air passenger experience. The Board, chaired at the October 12 session by Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford sitting in for Governor Larry Hogan, and with Treasurer Dereck Davis and Comptroller Peter Franchot, authorized a $332.5 million contract for the A/B Connector and Baggage Handling System Improvement at BWI Marshall. The multi-year construction project is the largest terminal enhancement ever for the airport.
“This significant investment at Maryland’s BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport supports trade and tourism, creates jobs and will improve the passenger experience for decades to come,” said Governor Hogan. “This is another example of how we’re ensuring BWI Marshall remains a convenient, efficient airport for passengers and a major economic generator for the state and region.”
The A/B Connector and Baggage Handling System improvements at BWI Marshall will bring a major upgrade to the center of operations for Southwest Airlines. Improvements advanced by the Board of Public Works will include a new, sophisticated baggage handling system, a direct connection between concourses A and B, expanded holdroom areas at passenger gates, new restrooms and added food and retail concessions space.
“The improvements approved today by the Board of Public Works will benefit the airport, our passengers and our largest airline partner,” said Maryland Transportation Secretary James F. Ports Jr. “BWI Marshall consistently ranks high with passengers for convenience, service and amenities, and this project will enhance our operations and support even more jobs.”
Southwest Airlines is the busiest carrier at BWI Thurgood Marshall, serving about 70% of the airport’s passenger traffic. BWI is one of the busiest airports in the airline’s network, and there are more than 4,000 Southwest employees in this market.
“We appreciate the support from the Governor, the Lt. Governor, the Treasurer and the Comptroller for this important project,” said Ricky Smith, Executive Director of BWI Marshall Airport. “BWI Marshall is a top economic driver for Maryland and the entire National Capital Region. This capital project will support airline service and improve the travel experience for our customers. The launch of this phase of the project marks a pivotal point in the airport’s recovery.”
Preliminary work to support the A/B Connector and Baggage Handling System project started early this year. Major construction approved by the Board today is set to begin in late 2022. The current schedule calls for completion of the new baggage handling system and the connector in late 2025, with final program completion in summer 2026.
In addition to the major terminal improvements, BWI Marshall also is collaborating with Southwest on the airline’s new $135 million maintenance facility, its first in the northeastern United States. Site preparation for this new facility is underway. The 27-acre site will include a hangar to accommodate up to three Boeing 737 aircrafts and an apron space to accommodate up to eight Southwest Airlines jets, along with associated office and workshop space.
Airline and passenger traffic continue to rebound at BWI Marshall Airport. Total passenger traffic grew 68% last year, reaching 18.8 million for the year. The airport set a new annual record for cargo operations in 2021, with nearly 619 million pounds of cargo transported. Three new airlines started service at BWI Marshall this year, along with several returning international and domestic routes.