Terminal Building entrance, BWI-Thurgood Marshall Airport, Maryland, September 2008. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.
The State of Maryland owns and operates two airports: Baltimore/Washington International (BWI) Thurgood Marshall Airport, and Martin State Airport. Both are run by the Maryland Aviation Administration, an agency of the Department of Transportation. Yet, Maryland's aviation history dates to the 18th century.
Although possibly the first recorded manned flight occurred over Baltimore in a balloon in 1784, Maryland did not pass its Uniform State Law for Aeronautics until 1927 (Chapter 637, Acts of 1927). Two years later, it established the State Aviation Commission (Chapter 318, Acts of 1929). The Commission licensed aviators and airships, set air traffic rules, regulated the construction and operation of airfields, and otherwise conformed to federal regulations. In 1970, the Commission was reorganized as an administration and made part of the newly formed Department of Transportation. In 1972, the State Aviation Administration took over operation of Friendship International Airport (now BWI Thurgood Marshall) after its purchase by the State. At that time, the number of Administration employees rose from three to over two hundred. The Administration was renamed the Maryland Aviation Administration in 1989.
BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport is one of the fastest growing large airports in the United States. Ranked as the region's busiest airport, BWI's operations bring in $7.8 billion in business revenue to Maryland, as well as nearly $800 million in taxes. Just south of Baltimore City, the Airport lies on nearly 3,600 acres in northern Anne Arundel County. BWI offers both passenger and cargo flights to domestic and international sites, with daily nonstop flights available to 65 domestic and 10 international destinations.
Thirty-six airlines (including commuter, charter and cargo airlines) serve BWI with over 600 commercial daily flights passing through its 5 concourses and 68 gates.
In 2015, over 23.8 million passengers flew through the Airport, with an average of 65,270 per day, an all-time record high. The number of passengers increased by 6.8% over 2014. More than 1.1 million international passengers passed through BWI, making 2015 the first year that the airport has passed the million per year milestone.
In July 2015, some 2,364,872 passengers travelled through BWI, the busiest month on record. International passengers numbered 137,791, the highest monthly total on record.
In 2015, the Airport handled 257.2 million pounds of air cargo (mail & freight). BWI also handled 243,253 aircraft operations.
In 2014, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine ranked BWI first for healthful meal options, with over 90% of restaurants offering at least one healthy meal option.
In 2009, the Airports Council International ranked BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport first for airport service quality among airports around the world that served 15 to 25 million passengers annually.
Providing a 24-hour U.S. Customs operation, BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport is designated an official port of entry by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 1997, the Airport also was designated as a European gateway for the U.S. Air Force's Air Mobility Command. In addition, the Airport has a foreign trade zone in the Air Cargo Center. With scheduled refrigerated trucking to major destinations in the Baltimore-Washington region, the Airport offers on site a 24-hour cold storage facility.
To expand and enhance service and beautify Airport facilities, a multi-million dollar construction program began in 1994 and continues. Some 3,400 public parking spaces were added to satellite lots, and a new daily parking garage opened in 2002. Since completion in 2003, the garage offers 8,400 parking spaces with a "Smart Park" vehicle guidance system to help travelers find an open parking space. A 10,500-foot runway now better accommodates long-haul traffic.
Opened in 1997, an international pier, called the Governor William Donald Schaefer International Terminal, includes the Maryland Central Light Rail Line on its lower level (Chapter 702, Acts of 1994; Code Transportation Article, sec. 5-413). Amtrak and MARC passengers may park in a five-level parking garage.
Martin State Airport Control Tower, 701 Wilson Point Road, Middle River, Maryland, October 2016. Photo by Sarah A. Hanks.
Martin State Airport began in 1929 as an airplane production facility built by Glenn L. Martin, an aviation designer and constructor. Before and during World War II, the Glen L. Martin Aircraft Company produced the B-10 and B-26 bombers, the China Clipper, and the Martin Mars planes at the facility. Runways also were added during the war period. In 1961, the Martin Company merged with the American Marietta Corporation to form the Martin Marietta Corporation. The State of Maryland purchased 747 acres of the Airport in 1975 from the Martin Marietta Corporation.
In FY2015, the Airport generated over $8.5 million in revenues and handled 83,538 aircraft operations. Martin State Airport also generated $287 million in business revenue for Maryland.
In 2012 and 2014, Martin State Airport hosted the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels, when they took part in the celebrations commemorating Baltimore's role in the War of 1812. In October 2016, Martin hosted the Blue Angels as they took part in Maryland's inaugural Fleet Week celebrations in Baltimore.
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