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July 2010 BWI’s busiest month ever

More passengers flew through Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport in July than in any other month in the airport’s 60-year history.

The 2.17 million commercial passengers who used the airport in July, a 4.5 percent increase over July 2009, eclipsed the previous record of 2.09 million set in August 2001.

Passenger traffic has grown at BWI in 13 of the past 14 months — February saw the only decline as back-to-back winter storms crippled air travel — even as many other airports around the country have seen their passenger totals shrink during the economic downturn. June was the third-busiest month ever at the airport, falling just short of the August 2001 mark.

Much of the airport’s success is due to the large and growing presence of discount carriers like Southwest Airlines Co. and AirTran Airways.

Both Southwest and AirTran, BWI’s top two airlines, set their own records for passenger travel there in July.

Southwest carried 1.17 million passengers, up 11.1 percent over last year, and has expanded to an all-time high 182 daily departures during the summer, including a route to Panama City Beach, Fla., added in May.

AirTran served just shy of 384,000 passengers, up 3.8 percent. AirTran flies 63 daily departures, and has added flights to Michigan, Florida, Alabama, Texas, the Bahamas and Jamaica.

BWI has also seen growth in Air Canada Jazz, Continental Airlines, U.S. Airways and American Airlines.

“BWI Marshall is providing an excellent consumer experience, increased air serve and low-fare competition,” said the airport’s executive director, Paul J. Wiedefeld.

Indeed, BWI offers cheaper flights than most other airports its size. During the first three months of the year, domestic ticket prices at BWI averaged $277.35, a figure lower than 84 other airports around the country, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The nationwide average, computed after taxes but before add-ons like baggage fees, was $328.12, a 4.7 percent year-over-year increase. BWI’s ticket prices rose 5.1 percent during that period.