BWI to close two runways for maintenance this weekend

If the weather holds, Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on Friday night will close its two busiest runways for about 54 hours, relying on a shorter, little-used one as it repaves a critical intersection.

Airport officials said passengers and travelers should expect flight delays throughout the weekend as it completes the maintenance project - the first such closing in more than two decades.

A spokesperson for Southwest Airlines said it is advising customers to expect delays on Sunday. British Airways has said that it plans to shift weekend flights to Dulles International Airport in Virginia while the paving work is done because the shorter runway is not suitable for its large Boeing 767.

BWI has four runways: two for commercial traffic, one for general aviation and a fourth that is seldom used, said spokesperson Jonathan Dean. The two main runways are 10,500 and 9,500 feet long, while the little-used runway known as 4-22 is only 6,000 feet long.

During the weekend closures, BWI will utilize runway 4-22 for most commercial operations. It has approach and departure paths that overfly areas to the northeast of Aviation Boulevard (Linthicum and Lindale) and southwest of MD-100 (Arundel Mills and Severn areas). 

"During the scheduled weekend work, local residents will recognize a temporary shift in aircraft activity due to the short-term closures of the two main runways," airport officials said.

"We have worked closely for many months with the airlines and the FAA to plan and prepare for this important project," said Paul J. Wiedefeld, executive director of BWI.  "This work will allow the airport to continue serving travelers for many years."

On a typical September weekend, BWI handles almost 1,400 takeoffs and landings, airport officials said.

Travelers with scheduled flights or those who plan to pick up arriving passengers should check flight status before heading to the airport.

If weather conditions prevent the work, the project will take place the following weekend.

Reporter Michael Dresser contributed to this report.