- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 27, 2001

The number of flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport increased yesterday as the second phase of the airport's reopening began.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, the agency that manages the airport, expected about 250 flights at Reagan yesterday. The airport has handled about 154 flights a day since the reopening began Oct. 4 after a three-week closure.
Federal authorities have given the airport permission to handle no more than 414 flights a day during the second phase of the reopening, which is scheduled to last 45 days. The details of the third and final phase of the reopening remain fuzzy, but the airports authority hopes Reagan Airport will be allowed to resume normal flight schedules.
At its peak, Reagan handled about 792 daily commercial flights.
"No one has defined what phase three means, but our hope is that it means opening the airport up to whatever the marketplace requires," said Tara Hamilton, a spokeswoman for the airports authority.
The Transportation Department, citing security reasons, closed the airport for 23 days in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. The Washington economy lost $5.5 million a day during the closure, analysts estimate.
Merchants at Reagan said business was up yesterday, even though the terminal seemed as sparse as a shopping mall on a Sunday morning.
About 1:30 p.m. yesterday, there was not even enough of the usual hustle and bustle to drown out the elevator music piped into the airport's shopping area.
Still, some merchants said there was more foot traffic inside the terminal yesterday than there has been in the past three weeks.
"Up until today, the airport had a feeling like it was in mourning. As empty as it looks, there are actually more people today than it has been," said a worker at a luggage shop who asked to not be named.
The T.G.I Friday's restaurant at Reagan Airport expected to serve about 250 customers yesterday, compared to 175 customers on Oct. 19.
"Our business reflects the number of flights at the airport. As the flights increase, so does our business," said Gabrielle Raniere, a manager at the restaurant.
One store that said its business has been steady throughout the reopening process is America, which carries patriotic-themed merchandise. Red, white and blue lapel pins have been among the biggest sellers at the store, according to Paul Buckles, its manager.
Other popular items include toilet paper that features the words "Wipe out bin Laden" along with an image of fugitive Osama bin Laden. It sells for $7.95 a roll.
Travelers also said they noticed an increase in traffic at Reagan Airport. One couple, waiting for their flight home to Tallahassee, Fla., after a weeklong vacation in Washington, said there was more traffic at the airport yesterday than when they arrived last Saturday.
"There are more people, but it's still pretty quiet," Mary Ann Brown said.

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