Dulles Airport ready for transformation after 60 years

Suspension

As Dulles International Airport emerges from a global pandemic and prepares to celebrate its 60th anniversary this year, the airport is laying the groundwork for a renovation it hopes will pave the way for its future.

Plans to build a 14-gate gate were announced earlier this year, and are part of a broader modernization effort at Dulles, which has long served as the region’s international hub. The airport is managed through this process by Richard Golinowski, who has served in various roles at the Washington, DC Airports Authority for more than two decades. He was appointed director of the airport last September.

Golinowski spoke with The Washington Post about recovering from the Dallas pandemic, future expansion plans and the benefits of extending the Silver Line. This interview has been slightly edited.

s: How are things these days in Dallas and how close are you to pre-pandemic operations?

a: The airport is bustling with activity. It’s extraordinary how many people are starting to come back and start getting on a plane to travel. We’re close to 85 percent of where we were in 2019. So we’re a little ahead of our budget numbers at the moment. And it looks like in 2023 we’ll probably be about 90 percent of what we were in 2019. About 95 percent of our franchises are open and making money, so we’re doing pretty well.

s: What is fueling the increase in flights? Are the carriers coming back and restarting the service or are new carriers coming?

a: We have a mixture of the two. We have some airlines dating. The last one was Iberia going to Madrid. They were with us a few years ago. But our current carriers are adding the service. United added Amman, Jordan; the Ethiopian added Lome, Togo; And Avianca added Costa Rica. Allegiant is another new carrier. They started home service in Jacksonville, Florida, and Austin last year. Hopefully, if all goes well, by November United will start serving Cape Town.

More questions and answers with the makers of transportation news

s: How long have you been running the show in Dallas?

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a: It’s been about 11 months. I’ve been with the authority for 27 years, so I’ve known a lot of people here in Dulles. But there are a lot of interesting places here at the airport that I didn’t know existed before. I will take the grand tour. Someone always shows me something new, so it’s very exciting.

s: Dulles is celebrating its 60th year this year. What have you all planned?

a: The 60th anniversary will be on November 17th, so we’re building on that. We will be holding several events this week, including some promotional gifts for employees and customers. We’re having a dinner party through our Dulles Committee. And she began to see, if you came to the airport, signs and banners announcing the 60th anniversary. We will involve not only the authority’s staff, but also all the people who work at the airport on a daily basis. We have about 14,000 people working here at the airport to support operations and everyone is very excited.

s: At 60, is Dallas starting to show his age?

a: Yes it is. We’re starting to see some problems in some of our older buildings and we’re fixing them. Obviously, over the last couple of years we’ve tried to control our budget as much as we can, but now that things are starting to get better we’re starting to save some money for maintenance on some of our old infrastructure.

s: There’s been some big news from Dulles lately. Can you tell me more about the 14-gate lobby and what this will mean for travelers?

a: If you’re familiar with the C/D Stadium – this is the Consolidated Concourse – when it was built, it was built as a “temporary facility”. Well, it’s been around for 20 or 30 years now. We’ve always had the intention of replacing him, so this upcoming lot, Concourse East, will be the first phase of revitalizing Dallas Airport. It will be an addition of 14 gates that will be built directly above train station C. If you are familiar with this train station today, when you get in and out of the train you have a long walk to the gate. The new lobby will be built directly on top of this train station, so you will appear directly across the escalators and elevators right in the lobby.

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s: How long will this take to complete?

a: We hope to have it done by 2026.

s: How does this fit into the larger DLS masterplan?

a: After we build this entrance, we will then expand it across the airport over time and eventually replace it with the C/D volcano. At the moment we are going through the planning process to determine the best way to do this. If you think about it today, there would be one large lobby, parallel to the C/D hall we have today.

s: How can the public participate in the DLL planning process?

a: We will have a series of public participation places or events, where people can come and see what our initial plan is and what our long-term plan is. The first session took place on April 27, and we are preparing to schedule the next one or two public sessions. People can also Go to the site and send questions, concerns or comments about our master plan. It is also important to note that the last time we made a master plan was in 1985. So the current plan is 37 years old and needs updating.

s: As the person in charge of managing Dulles, do you hear from your passengers about the features or services they would like to see?

a: One of the things we constantly hear about is the ease of access to the gates. So part of the master planning process is trying to figure out how to include [Transportation Security Administration] Checkpoint areas in our facilities are a little better. Also, on return flights, we’ll look at how Customs and Border Protection can help streamline their processes for people coming into the country.

s: How will the opening of Phase Two of the Silver Line affect Dallas?

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a: It will be good for the airport. I think, in the end, it will bring more personnel to the airport than the number of passengers. But that’s fine. If we could get the staff to the airport more easily – taking them on public transport rather than driving on the roads every day – I think it would be good for the area.

s: Why aren’t more passengers using it? Is it a long drive from downtown?

a: I don’t think it’s time. I think quite frankly, it’s a baggage thing. People don’t want to carry luggage on the metro. They prefer to drive or take an Uber, take a taxi or take them to the airport with their luggage.

After years of long stagnation, Dulles Airport is starting to rebound

s: There seems to be some bias in this area against Dulles – it’s too hard to get to or people just don’t like it. Why do you think so?

a: This is a good question. I hope the opening of the silver line will clear some of that perception [Dulles] more accessible. But it is certain that the development under the corridor has already opened the possibilities and expansion of Dulles Airport. So I think slowly but surely that kind of mindset is leaving us.

s: I know right before the pandemic, Dallas was on alert many years after that We rub a hand over her future. At one time, it surpassed National Dallas in the number of passengers. Do you think Dallas will be able to regain this momentum?

a: The future is bright here. We have a lot of interest and airlines come to the airport. We have a lot of pent-up demand in the area for travel, and this is the place to do it. And we have a very good infrastructure to accommodate more flights and more passengers. We can handle it, unlike National, which is somewhat landlocked and restricted in size. They cannot grow. We can grow and we are ready for it.

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