ANNAPOLIS – The Board of Public Works Wednesday approved the $4.3 million sale to the state of Maryland of 29 of the 42 gates held by US Airways at Baltimore/Washington International Airport.
The move opens up room for BWI to continue its expansion and benefits the troubled carrier, which has dramatically reduced departures from the airport after suffering a $1.17 billion loss in 2001.
The company saves money by not paying for the unused gates, said US Airways spokesman David Castelveter.
The drop in departures came after the airline shed its MetroJet arm in December, said Castelveter. The value-priced branch of the airline had run 49 daily flights out of BWI.
“We, like everyone else in the industry, drastically cut service because demand for service was down,” after the Sept. 11 terrorist hijackings, said Castelveter.
The Board of Public Works voted unanimously for the sale. The three- member commission, consisting of the state secretary, comptroller and governor, approves state contracts and spending.
“The sale will enable us to give additional gates to the airways that are already there and need more space,” said Nancy Sites, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Aviation Administration, which operates the airport.
And it will provide the space to relocate United Airlines so that the expansion of the A Pier can continue, she said.
The 12 new gates to be added to the A Pier are the target of future Southwest expansion.
“The additional gate capacity will help fuel future growth as BWI continues to be one of the fastest growing and progressive airports in the nation,” said Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in a written statement afterward.
The airport experienced an overall growth in passenger traffic and a growth in carriers despite the Sept. 11 attacks.
Passengers going through the airport increased by 3.9 percent in 2001 and four new airlines added service there in the last four months, including Air Tran Airways, Pan American Airways, Boston-Maine Airways and Skyway Airways.
But Sites said no airlines had yet petitioned for the gates being freed by US Airways.
The airline had carried a quarter of the 20.37 million passengers who flew through BWI last year.