- The Washington Times - Friday, October 3, 2003

LINTHICUM, Md. (AP) — Baltimore-Washington International Airport supports more than 104,000 jobs, and its impact is growing despite the setback the aviation industry suffered after the September 11, 2001, terrorists attacks, according to a new study.

The airport, and the passengers and businesses who use it, account for $5.69 billion in economic activity, according to the study conducted by Martin Associates, an aviation research firm in Lancaster, Pa.

More than 19 million people last year traveled through BWI, which handled 554 million pounds of air cargo, according to the report.

The researchers, however, also documented what many already knew — the September 11 terrorists attacks had a chilling effect on airport business.

Airport jobs declined to 20,503 last year from 24,091 in 2000. State and local tax revenue, meanwhile, dropped 24 percent, from $200 million to $153 million, during that same period, the report said.

The airport’s impact on the regional economy as a whole, however, grew during that period.

The overall number of jobs supported by the airport rose to 104,758 last year from 84,937 in 2000. State and local tax revenue rose to $781 million from $706 million in 2000, the researchers found.

“Despite the recent challenges facing the aviation industry, business remains very good at BWI Airport,” said Paul J. Wiedefeld, executive director of the Maryland Aviation Administration. “We’ve seen this past summer that both domestic and international air travel continue to rise above the national average.”

Passenger traffic in July returned nearly to pre-September 11 levels, the airport reported earlier this year.

An expansion plan currently under way should continue to boost BWI’s economic benefit, but more needs to be done, business leaders were told Thursday.

Aris Melissaratos, state secretary of business and economic development, told business leaders at a BWI Business Partnership-sponsored breakfast meeting that the airport needs to do more to promote business development.

“There is a need for first-class and upper-class service, a balance with Southwest,” he said. The discount, no-frills airline, which doesn’t serve meals or assign seats, is the airport’s largest carrier. “Southwest Airlines is not sufficient, Air Tran is not sufficient. It’s good enough for most people but not for the CEOs we’re trying to attract.”

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