Baltimore/Washington International airport plans to add five gates to concourse A by 2020 to keep up with Southwest Airlines' planned growth.

The roughly $60 million expansion includes a 5,110m2 (55,000ft2) extension of the concourse to the north with five new gates designed to handle up to Boeing 737 Max 8-sized aircraft, a notice to the Maryland Board of Public Works shows.

BWI concourse extension


Southwest will use the gates, initially as a replacement for five that will be temporarily taken out of service during renovations of the concourse A/B connector and later to accommodate its planned growth at the airport.

The airline operates 16 737-8s with 175 seats, and has firm orders for another 234 aircraft, Flight Fleets Analyzer shows.

"These improvements will provide additional gates and associated support facilities to meet existing and projected demand for Southwest operations," BWI says in the notice to the public works board.

Southwest is the largest airline at BWI, carrying 68.9% of the airport's 26.4 million passengers in 2017, airport data shows.

"As always, we’re coordinating with our business partners at the State of Maryland as we collaborate to ponder the future of one of the most important places in our network," says the Dallas-based carrier on the planned expansion.

BWI is Southwest's second busiest airport, with up to 243 departures a day, the airline says. It declines to comment on its future plans in Baltimore.

International markets are one major area of growth for Southwest at the airport. The airline has added service to eight international destinations, including Aruba, Los Cabos and San Jose (Costa Rica), since 2014, FlightGlobal schedules data show.

This growth prompted BWI to increase the number of gates that can accommodate international arrivals with the concourse C/D connector project that was completed in 2016.

"Canada will be absolutely something we are interested in from BWI," said Gary Kelly, chief executive of Southwest, on future expansion opportunities from the airport in May. "We hope it's not five years from now."

Passenger traffic at BWI was up 5.1% in April, and up 5.3% during the year ending that month, the data shows.

The airport hopes to begin construction on the concourse extension by January 2019 and open the facility by June 2020.

Source: Cirium Dashboard