More than 1.3 million international passengers took off or landed at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport in 2023, surpassing a previous record set in 2018.

The bump was part of a larger gain in overall air traffic including domestic flights that reached 26.2 million passengers, a 15% increase from 2022.

“BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport is a key economic driver and international gateway for our region,” Gov. Wes Moore said in an emailed statement. “We’re making Maryland more competitive, and BWI is helping us lead the way by boosting tourism, creating jobs, and expanding business opportunities for our communities.”

Between jobs, tourism, retail and the rest, BWI drives about $11.3 billion into Maryland’s economy, according to airport officials. They anticipate traffic through BWI to fully return to pre-pandemic levels this year and then surpass it thanks to additional flights from legacy airlines and other carriers new to Baltimore terminals.

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Panama’s Copa Airlines, Icelandair and PLAY began serving BWI in recent years. And as of March 18, a new direct flight between Baltimore and Bermuda can get passengers from Charm City to a pink sand beach in a little more than two hours.

Southwest Airlines continues to be the BWI behemoth, handling just shy of 70% of BWI’s traffic. About 650,000 of the Dallas-based airline’s passengers moving through BWI in 2023 were coming from or going to international destinations.

BWI has gotten some positive publicity recently, notably for nationally recognized bathrooms.

A concourse A/B connector, including a new baggage handling system and additional food and retail space, is currently in the works. Estimated to cost roughly $462 million once finished in 2026, it’s the single largest capital project since the airport opened.

Daniel Zawodny covers transportation for the The Baltimore Banner as a corps member with Report For America. He is a Baltimore area native and graduated with his master's degree in journalism from American University in 2021. He is bilingual in English and Spanish and previously covered immigration issues.

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