BWI Airport has already started a large expansion project that will expedite a much needed $60 million concourse expansion. The entire initiative is underway in a move to keep the airport’s relationship with Southwest Airlines secure for the future.

The project was approved by BWI Airport and the state of Maryland in July and will add 5 new gates and passenger waiting areas to Concourse A, as well as an overall 55,000 sq. ft. addition with new food & retail space. Other major investments include upgrades to an aging baggage claim system at the airport that continuously causes long waits for passengers and delays in plane turnaround.

The Airport will be gaining a total of 5 new gates, but will be forced to close 5 existing gates on other concourses due to a lack of approvals from the Board of Public Works. The Airport and Federal Aviation Administration officials are under constant ongoing pressure to fix the number of low-flying flights causing an impact on area homeowners.

The project approval moves things forward in an expedited fashion. Groundbreaking will be in January 2019 with a fully completed expansion by July 2020. The Airport is trying to stay well ahead of Southwest Airlines’ publicly stated demands that they must operate within a renovated facility by 2022.

Both parties are working hard to maintain their ongoing relationship. Southwest is BWI’s top airline, accounting for 68 percent of the airport’s passengers last year, or 18.2 million people. BWI Airport is Southwest’s second-busiest airport, with up to 243 departures a day to 64 cities, according to the Dallas-based airline. Its passenger volume at BWI grew 4.3 percent last year.