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Passengers leaving BWI to pay extra $3


Starting today, all passengers flying out of Baltimore-Washington International Airport will pay an extra $3 a ticket to help pay for airport improvements, including a new international terminal and a longer runway.

The fee, approved in July by the Federal Aviation Administration, is expected to generate nearly $142 million for BWI over the next 10 years.

The extra fee for a flight leaving BWI is $3. But if the flight stops at other airports, where such fees have also been authorized, an additional "passenger facilities charge" would be tacked onto the original ticket price, up to a maximum of $12.

The fee does not apply to passengers arriving at the airport.

BWI is one of 29 airports in the country -- including nine on the East Coast -- authorized by the FAA to collect the fee. State officials say they do not expect the charge, a small part of the average $250 round-trip ticket, to make the airport less competitive.

"We don't really believe it will have any impact on passenger traffic," said Jay Hierholzer, associate administrator for marketing and development at BWI. "We don't think consumers will avoid BWI."

Neither Dulles International nor National Airport, BWI's closest competitors, impose the fee, but Mr. Hierholzer said they are applying for FAA authorization.

The new fee would produce roughly 80 percent of the anticipated $123 million needed for the international wing, which would be built as a new pier on BWI's main terminal. In addition, the money would enable the airport to add 1,050 feet to the existing 9,500-foot runway used by large international carriers.

Both the longer runway and terminal are seen as critical in attracting more foreign carriers to the airport. In recent years, BWI's domestic flights have dropped off while international flights have grown substantially.

The money also would be used for renovations to the airport's fire rescue building and for improving roads to the terminal.

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