Dulles Airport is poised for a makeover after 60 years


As Dulles International Airport emerges from a international pandemic and prepares to have fun its sixtieth anniversary this 12 months, the airport is laying the groundwork for a makeover it hopes will set the stage for its future.

Plans for a 14-gate concourse introduced earlier this 12 months are a part of a broader modernization effort at Dulles, which has lengthy served because the area’s worldwide hub. Shepherding the airport by that course of is Richard Golinowski, who labored in varied roles on the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority for greater than twenty years. He was appointed director of the airport final September.

Golinowski spoke with The Washington Post about Dulles’ pandemic restoration, plans for future growth and the advantages of the Silver Line extension. This interview has been flippantly edited.

Q: How are issues nowadays at Dulles and the way shut are you to pre-pandemic operations?

A: The airport is abuzz with exercise. It’s fairly phenomenal how many individuals are beginning to come again and beginning to get on a aircraft to journey. We are roughly 85 % of the place we have been in 2019. So we’re a little bit forward of our finances numbers proper now. And it seems to be like going into 2023, we’ll most likely be round 90 % of the place we have been 2019. About 95 % of our concessions are open and earning profits, so we’re doing nicely.

Q: What’s fueling the rise in flights? Are carriers coming again and restarting service or are new carriers coming in?

A: We have a combination of each. We have some carriers coming again. The newest one was Iberia going to Madrid. They had been with us a few years in the past. But our present carriers are including service. United added Amman, Jordan; Ethiopian added Lomé, Togo; and Avianca added Costa Rica. Allegiant is one other new provider. They began home service to Jacksonville, Fla., and Austin this previous 12 months. And hopefully, if every part goes nicely, by November, United will begin service to Cape Town.

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Q: How lengthy have you ever been working the present at Dulles?

A: It’s been about 11 months. I’ve been with the authority for about 27 years, so I knew a lot of individuals right here at Dulles. But there are a lot of fascinating locations right here on the airport that I by no means knew existed. And I’m getting the grand tour. Somebody is at all times exhibiting me one thing new, so it’s fairly thrilling.

Q: Dulles is celebrating its sixtieth 12 months this 12 months. What do you all have deliberate?

A: The sixtieth anniversary will probably be on Nov. 17, so we’re constructing as much as that. We’re going to have a number of occasions that week, together with some giveaways to workers and to clients. We’re going to have a dinner occasion by our Committee for Dulles group. And you’re beginning to see, in case you come to the airport, indicators and banners saying the sixtieth anniversary. We’re going to contain not simply the authority workers, but additionally all of the individuals who work on the airport on a day-to-day foundation. We have about 14,000 individuals who work right here on the airport supporting operations and all people is fairly excited.

Q: At 60, is Dulles beginning to present its age?

A: Yes, it is. We’re beginning to see some issues in a few of our older buildings and we’re addressing these. Obviously, over the previous couple of years, we’ve tried to manage our finances as a lot as we might, however now that issues are beginning to lookup, we’re beginning to unlock some cash for upkeep for a few of our older infrastructure.

Q: There’s been some huge information out of Dulles not too long ago. Can you inform me extra in regards to the 14-gate concourse and what it’s going to imply for vacationers?

A: If you’re conversant in the C/D concourse — that’s the United Concourse — when that was constructed, it was constructed as a “temporary facility.” Well, it’s been round for 20 or 30 years now. We at all times had intentions to interchange it, so this piece that’s coming, Concourse East, would be the first part of the revitalization of Dulles Airport. It’s going to be a 14-gate addition that’s going to be constructed proper on high of the C practice station. If you’re conversant in this practice station at present, once you go in and also you come out of the practice, you might have a lengthy stroll again to the gate. The new concourse will probably be constructed proper on high of that practice station, so that you’ll simply pop proper up by escalators and elevators proper into the concourse.

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Q: How lengthy will this take to finish?

A: We hope to have it executed by 2026.

Q: How does this match into the bigger grasp plan for Dulles?

A: After we construct this concourse we’ll then prolong it throughout the airfield over time and in the end substitute the C/D concourse. Right now we’re going by the planning course of to determine one of the best ways to try this. If you consider it at present, it will be one giant concourse, parallel to the C/D concourse we have now at present.

Q: How can the general public get entangled within the planning course of for Dulles?

A: We are going to have a sequence of public participation venues or occasions, the place folks can come and see what our preliminary plan is and what our long-term plan is. The first one was held on April 27 and we’re on the brink of schedule the following one or two of these public classes. People may go to the website and submit questions or issues or feedback about our grasp plan. It’s additionally vital to notice that the final time we did a grasp plan was in 1985. So the prevailing plan is 37 years outdated and it must be up to date.

Q: As the particular person accountable for managing Dulles, do you hear from passengers about options or companies they’d prefer to see?

A: One of the issues we continually hear about is quick access to the gates. So a part of the grasp planning course of is making an attempt to determine how one can incorporate [Transportation Security Administration] checkpoint screening areas into our amenities a little bit higher. Also, on return flights, we’ll take a look at how we might help Customs and Border Protection streamline their operations for folks coming into the nation.

Q: How will the opening of the second part of the Silver Line impression Dulles?

A: It’s going to be good for the airport. I feel, in the end, it is going to deliver extra workers to the airport than it is going to passengers. But that’s good. If we will get workers to the airport extra simply — transporting them through public transportation slightly than driving on the roads day-after-day — I feel it’s going to be good for the world.

Q: Why gained’t extra passengers use it? Is it as a result of it’s such a lengthy trip from downtown D. C.?

A: I don’t suppose it’s a time factor. I feel it’s fairly frankly, it’s a baggage factor. People don’t wish to carry baggage on the Metro. They’d slightly simply drive or take an Uber, take a taxi or have any person drive them to the airport with their baggage.

After a years long slump, Dulles Airport is bouncing back

Q: In this area there appears to be some bias in opposition to Dulles — that it’s too arduous to get to or folks simply don’t prefer it. Why do you suppose that is?

A: That’s a good query. I’m hoping that the opening of the Silver Line takes away a few of that notion, makes [Dulles] extra accessible. But undoubtedly the event that’s occurred down the hall has actually opened up the probabilities for Dulles Airport and its growth. So I feel slowly however absolutely that type of mind-set is leaving us.

Q: I do know proper earlier than the pandemic, Dulles was on a roll after a lot of years of hand-wringing over its future. At one level National had surpassed Dulles in passenger counts. Do you suppose Dulles is going to have the ability to regain that momentum?

A: The future is brilliant right here. We have a lot of curiosity and carriers are coming to the airport. We have a lot of pent-up demand within the area for journey, and this is the place to do it. And we have now superb infrastructure to accommodate extra flights and extra passengers. We can deal with it, in contrast to National, which is considerably landlocked and restricted on measurement. They can’t develop. We can develop and we’re prepared for it.

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