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BWI sets 1Q passenger record, sees good year

Almost 5 million passengers flew through Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport in the first quarter this year, an all-time record.

Passenger traffic increased 2.6 percent — to 4,932,490 — compared with the same period in 2011. Total cargo shipments also rose 3.2 percent from 2011, to 57.7 million pounds.

Jonathan Dean, an airport spokesman, said the record continued an upward trend that started in 2009, when BWI was one of only two top U.S. airports to show an increase in passenger traffic.

In 2011, the airport set an all-time record for annual traffic after more than 22 million people flew to and from BWI. The previous record was set in 2010.

In a statement, BWI Executive Director Paul J. Wiedefeld said the airport was on its way to another recording-breaking year in 2012.

“The outstanding growth and success we experienced in 2011 has continued in early 2012,” Wiedefeld said. “We thank our customers as we prepare for a number of terminal improvements that will enhance the travel experience at BWI Marshall.”

The improvements include a new security checkpoint, a secure connector between concourses B and C and an improved Concourse C area including new food and retail.

The passenger increase was led by Southwest Airlines, which moved more than 2.8 million passengers in and out of the airport from January to March, a 5.6 percent increase from 2011. JetBlue Airways, Delta Air Lines, US Airways and British Airways also showed growth for the quarter.

Passenger numbers should continue to climb. July is typically the busiest month of the year at BWI, Dean said, and several airlines intend to make new flights available this year.

Southwest intends to offer 199 daily departures this summer, the most flights the airline has ever offered out of BWI. Meanwhile, Condor Airlines of Germany will begin twice-weekly seasonal flights to Frankfurt, Germany, in July.

Bahamasair began flights to Freeport, a city on Grand Bahama island, on Thursday.