LINTHICUM, Md. (AP) — Maryland aviation officials say the future of Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport may depend on boosting its number of international flights.

“We really see that as a big part of our future,” said Paul J. Wiedefeld, executive director of the Maryland Aviation Administration.

The Daily Record reports that Wiedefeld says airport traffic was up 1 percent in the first quarter, an increase that includes a steady gain in international travel. BWI saw international travel grow 20.7 percent between 2011 and 2012 with more than 70,000 passengers traveling on an international flight in August.

The gains are driven primarily by Southwest Airlines’ acquisition of AirTran Airways, which added several international trips from BWI in recent years, he said. Southwest accounts for nearly 58 percent of all BWI passengers and AirTran accounts for almost 14 percent.

But most international passengers are tourists, leaving a hole in the airport’s business plan, Wiedefeld said.

“It’s one of the challenges we do face,” he said. “British Airways . they make their money at the front of the plane. When we’re competing for that daily flight out of BWI, I’m literally competing against the world.”

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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