Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport Article

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Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport logo.svg
Washington national airport.jpg
Airport typePublic
Owner Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
Government of the United States
OperatorMetropolitan Washington Airports Authority
Serves Washington metropolitan area
Location Arlington, Virginia, U.S.
OpenedJune 16, 1941; 77 years ago (1941-06-16) [1]
Hub for American Airlines
Elevation  AMSL15 ft / 5 m
Coordinates 38°51′08″N 077°02′16″W / 38.85222°N 77.03778°W / 38.85222; -77.03778
REAGAN NATIONAL AIRPORT Latitude and Longitude:

38°51′08″N 077°02′16″W / 38.85222°N 77.03778°W / 38.85222; -77.03778
A map with a grid overlay showing the terminals runways and other structures of the airport.
FAA airport diagram
DCA is located in District of Columbia
Location in immediate Washington, D.C. area
DCA is located in Virginia
DCA (Virginia)
DCA is located in the US
DCA (the US)
Direction Length Surface
ft m
1/19 7,169 2,185 Asphalt
4/22 4,911 1,497 Asphalt
15/33 5,204 1,586 Asphalt
Statistics (2017)
Aircraft operations293,027
Total Passengers23,928,248
Source: Federal Aviation Administration, [2] Passenger traffic [3]
Washington National Airport Terminal
and South Hangar Line
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is located in Virginia
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is located in the US
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
LocationThomas Ave.
Arlington, Virginia
Area18.1 acres (7.3 ha)
Built1941 (1941), 78 years ago
Architectural styleModerne
NRHP reference # 97001111 [4]
VLR #000-0045
Significant dates
Added to NRHPSeptember 12, 1997
Designated VLRJune 27, 1995 [5]

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport ( IATA: DCA, ICAO: KDCA, FAA LID: DCA) is an airport in Arlington, Virginia that is one of two major airports serving Washington, D.C., the other being Washington Dulles International Airport. [2] It is the nearest commercial airport to the capital and serves the Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area. For decades it was called Washington National Airport before being renamed to honor President Ronald Reagan in 1998. [6] [7] The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) operates the airport with close oversight by the federal government due to its proximity to the national capital.

It is located in the neighborhood of Crystal City in the county of Arlington, Virginia, 5 miles (10 km) south of Downtown Washington. It covers 861 acres (348 ha) of land. [2]

Reagan National is a fortress hub for American Airlines which operates near-hourly air shuttle flights to Logan International Airport in Boston and New York LaGuardia Airport. Delta also operates near-hourly air shuttle flights to New York LaGuardia Airport which are all operated by Delta Shuttle. In the 12 months ending March 2015, the airport served 21,195,775 passengers. [8]

Other than 40 slot exemptions, flights into and out of the airport are not allowed to exceed 1,250 nautical miles (2,320 km; 1,440 mi) in any direction nonstop, in an effort to send coast-to-coast and overseas traffic to the larger but more distant Washington Dulles International Airport.

Reagan National has United States immigration and customs facilities only for business jet traffic; the only scheduled international flights allowed to land at the airport are those from airports with U.S. Customs and Border Protection preclearance facilities. Other international passenger flights must use Washington Dulles International Airport or Baltimore–Washington International Airport.


Terminal building in July 1941, shortly after it opened. Photograph by Jack Delano.
Terminal building from the tarmac in July, 1941
The airport in 1970
A view of Reagan National Airport from the Washington Metro

The first airport in the Washington area with a major terminal was Arlington's Hoover Field, which opened its doors in 1926. [9] Located near the present site of the Pentagon, the facility's single runway was crossed by a street; guards had to stop automobile traffic during takeoffs and landings. The following year Washington Airport, another privately operated field, began service next door. [1] In 1930 the Depression led the two terminals to merge to form Washington-Hoover Airport. Bordered on the east by U.S. Route 1, with its accompanying high-tension electrical wires, and obstructed by a high smokestack on one approach and a dump nearby, the field was inadequate. [10]

Although the need for a better airport was acknowledged in 37 studies conducted between 1926 and 1938, [1] there was a statutory prohibition against federal development of airports. When Congress lifted the prohibition in 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made a recess appropriation of $15 million to build National Airport by reallocating funds from other purposes. Construction of Washington National Airport began in 1940–41 by a company led by John McShain. Congress challenged the legality of FDR's recess appropriation, but construction of the new airport continued. [11]

The airport is southwest of Washington, D.C. The western part of the airport was once within a large Virginia plantation, a remnant of which is now inside a historic site located near the airport's Metro-rail station (see Abingdon (plantation) for history). The eastern part of the airport was constructed in the District of Columbia on and near mudflats that were within the tidal Potomac River near Gravelly Point, about 4 statute miles (6.4 km) from the United States Capitol, using landfill dredged from the Potomac River.

The airport opened June 16, 1941, just before US entry into World War II. [1] Public were entertained by displays of wartime equipment including a captured Japanese Zero war prize flown in with U.S. Navy colors. [12] In 1945 Congress passed a law that established the airport was legally within Virginia (mainly for liquor sales taxation purposes) but under the jurisdiction of the federal government. [1] On July 1 of that year, the airport's weather station became the official point for D.C. weather observations and records by the National Weather Service, which is located in Washington, D.C. [13]

The April 1957 Official Airline Guide shows 316 weekday departures: 95 Eastern (plus six per week to/from South America), 77 American, 61 Capital, 23 National, 17 TWA, 10 United, 10 Delta, 6 Allegheny, 6 Braniff, 5 Piedmont, 3 Northeast and 3 Northwest. Jet flights began in April 1966 (727-200s were not allowed until 1970). [14] By 1974, the airport's key carriers were Eastern (20 destinations), United (14 destinations after subsuming Capital) and Allegheny (11 destinations). [15]

The grooving of runway 18-36 to improve traction when wet, in March 1967, was a first for a civil airport in the United States. [16]

Service to the airport's Metro station began in 1977. [17]

The Washington National Airport Terminal and South Hangar Line were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. [4] [18]

Expansion and restrictions

The runway layout has changed little since the 1956 closure of the fourth east–west runway. The terminal building was supplemented by the North Terminal in 1958 and the two were connected in 1961. A United Airlines holdroom complex was built in 1965, and a facility for American Airlines was completed in 1968. A commuter terminal was constructed in 1970. [1] Runways 18/36 and 3/21 were renumbered as 1/19 and 4/22, respectively, in 1999 due to a shift in the earth's magnetic field. [19] In March 2012 the main 1/19 runway was lengthened 300 ft to add FAA compliant runway safety runoff areas. [20]

Despite the expansions, efforts have been made to restrict the growth of the airport. The advent of jet aircraft as well as traffic growth led Congress to pass the Washington Airport Act of 1950, which resulted in the opening of Washington Dulles International Airport in 1962. To reduce congestion and drive traffic to alternative airports, the FAA imposed landing slot and perimeter restrictions on National and four other high-density airports in 1969. [21]

Originally, the airport had no perimeter rule. From 1954 to 1960, airlines operated nonstop flights to California on piston-engine airliners. [22] [23] Scheduled jet airliners were not allowed until April 1966, and concerns about aviation noise led to noise restrictions even before jet service began in 1966.

The perimeter rule was implemented in January 1966 as a voluntary agreement by air carriers in order to get permission to use short-haul jets at National. The purpose was to assure that Dulles continued to serve the long haul domestic and international markets, and to limit traffic and noise at National. The FAA assumed that ground level noise would be reduced because planes would take off light on fuel and therefore be up and away quickly. The agreement limited flights to those that were no longer than 650 statute miles (1,050 km) with 7 grandfathered exceptions. The spirit of the voluntary agreement was regularly violated as flights left National to an airport within the perimeter and then immediately took off again for a destination beyond it. Within a year there was a proposal to reduce the perimeter to 500 miles, but it was widely opposed and never implemented. Overcrowding at National was later managed by the 1969 High Density Rule, thereby removing one of the justifications for the perimeter agreement. [24]

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, several attempts were made to codify the perimeter rule, but it was not until Dulles was endangered that it actually become a strict rule. In 1970, the FAA lifted the ban at National on the stretch version of the Boeing 727, which resulted in a lawsuit by Virginias for Dulles who argued that the airport's jet traffic was a nuisance. That suit resulted in a Court of Appeals order to create an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). In addition the court order, there were economic problems at Dulles. Following the extension of Metrorail to National in 1977, and airline deregulation in 1978, traffic at Dulles began to plummet while it increased at National. As part of a slate of efforts to protect Dulles, including removing landing fees and mobile lounge user charges, the FAA proposed regulations as part of the EIS to limit traffic at National and maintain Dulles' role as the area's airport serving long-haul destinations. In 1980, the FAA proposed codifying the perimeter rule as part of a larger rulemaking effort. When the rule was announced, airlines reacted by challenging it in court and, in some cases, scheduling flights beyond the perimeter, to Dallas and Houston, thereby breaking the voluntary agreement. To prevent this, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Policy of 1981 codified the perimeter rule on an interim basis "to maintain the long-haul nonstop service at Dulles and BWI which otherwise would preempt shorter haul service at National." At the same time, the perimeter was extended to 1000 miles to remove the unfairness of having seven grandfathered cities. The perimeter rule was upheld by the Court of Appeals in 1982. [25] [24] In 1986, as part of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Act which handed control of National over to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, the perimeter was extended to 1250 miles to enable direct flights to Houston. [24]

Slots at the airport have been traded in several instances. In 2011, US Airways acquired a number of Delta's slots at National in exchange for Delta receiving a number of US Airways slots at LaGuardia Airport in New York. JetBlue paid $40 million to acquire eight slot pairs at auction during the same year. [26] JetBlue and Southwest acquired 12 and 27 US Airways slot pairs, respectively, in 2014 as part of a government-mandated divestiture following the merger of US Airways and American. [27]

Transfer of control and renaming

In 1984, the Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole appointed a commission to study transferring National and Dulles Airports from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to a local entity, which could use airport revenues to finance improvements. [11] The commission recommended that one multi-state agency administer both Dulles and National, over the alternative of having Virginia control Dulles and the District of Columbia control National. [11] In 1987 Congress, through legislation, [28] transferred control of the airport from the FAA to the new Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority with the Authority's decisions being subject to a Congressional review panel. The constitutionality of the review panel was later challenged in the Supreme Court and the Court has twice declared the oversight panel unconstitutional. [29] Even after this decision, however, Congress has continued to intervene in the management of the airports. [30]

On February 6, 1998, President Bill Clinton signed legislation [31] changing the airport's name from Washington National Airport to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, to honor the former president on his 87th birthday. [32] The legislation, passed by Congress in 1998, [33] was drafted against the wishes of MWAA officials and political leaders in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. [34] [35] Opponents of the renaming argued that a large federal office building had already been named for Reagan (the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center) and that the airport was already named for a United States President ( George Washington). [35] The bill expressly stated that it did not require the expenditure of any funds to accomplish the name change; however, state, regional, and federal authorities were later required to change highway and transit signs at their own additional expense as new signs were made. [36] [37]

Construction of current terminal buildings

Control tower and new terminal C

With the addition of more flights and limited space in the aging main terminal, the airport began an extensive renovation and expansion in the 1990s. Hangar 11 on the northern end of the airport was converted into The USAir Interim Terminal, designed by Joseph C. Giuliani, FAIA. Soon after an addition for Delta Air Lines was added in 1989 and was later converted to Authority offices. These projects allowed for the relocation of several gates in the main terminal until the new $450 million terminal complex became operational. On July 27, 1997, the new terminal complex, consisting of terminals B and C and two parking garages, opened. Argentine architect César Pelli designed the new terminals of the airport. The Interim Terminal closed immediately after its opening and was converted back into a hangar. One pier of the main terminal (now widely known as Terminal A), which mainly housed American Airlines and Pan Am, was demolished; the other pier, originally designed by Giuliani Associates Architects for Northwest/TWA remains operational today as gates 1–9.


Many pilots [38] regard the "River Visual" approach as one of the more interesting in the United States
Line up for takeoff

Approach patterns

Reagan National Airport has some of the strictest noise restrictions in the country. [39] In addition, due to security concerns, the areas surrounding the National Mall and U.S. Naval Observatory in central Washington are prohibited airspace up to 18,000 feet (5,500 m). Due to these restrictions, pilots approaching from the north are generally required to follow the path of the Potomac River and turn just before landing. This approach is known as the River Visual. Similarly, flights taking off to the north are required to climb quickly and turn left. [40] [41]

The "River Visual" is only possible with a ceiling of at least 3,500 feet (1,100 m) and visibility of 3 statute miles (4.8 km) or more. [42] There are lights on the Key Bridge, Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, Arlington Memorial Bridge, and the George Mason Memorial Bridge to aid pilots following the river. Aircraft using the approach can be observed from various parks on the river's west bank. Passengers on the left side of an airplane can see the Capitol, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the World War II Memorial, Georgetown University, the National Mall, and the White House. Passengers on the right side can see CIA headquarters, Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon, and the United States Air Force Memorial.

When the River Visual is not available due to visibility or winds, aircraft may fly an offset localizer or GPS approach to Runway 19 along a similar course (flying a direct approach course on instruments as far as Rosslyn, and then turning to align with the runway visually moments before touchdown). Most airliners are also capable of performing a VOR or GPS approach to the shorter Runway 15/33. Northbound visual and ILS approaches to Runway 1 are also sometimes used; these approaches follow the Potomac River from the south and overfly the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. [43]

Special security measures

Reagan National Airport is in between two overlapping No Fly Zone so pilots have to watch out for the Pentagon and CIA headquarters. And on takeoff, pilots must ascend quickly and sharply turn left so they don't fly over the White House. After the attacks of September 11, security forces strongly enforce these rules. Reagan National has extra security precautions required by the Washington Air Defense Identification Zone that have been in place since the airport began operations. [40]

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, the airport was closed for several weeks, and security was tightened when it reopened. Increased security measures included:

  • A ban on aircraft with more than 156 seats (lifted in April 2002) [44]
  • A ban on the "River Visual" approach (lifted in April 2002) [44]
  • A requirement that, 30 minutes prior to landing or following takeoff, passengers were required to remain seated; if anyone stood up, the aircraft was to be diverted to Washington Dulles International Airport under military escort and the person standing would be detained and questioned by federal law enforcement officials (lifted in July 2005) [45]
  • A ban on general aviation (lifted in October 2005, subject to the restrictions below) [46]

On October 18, 2005, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport was reopened to general aviation on a limited basis (48 operations per day) and under restrictions: passenger and crew manifests must be submitted to the Transportation Security Administration 24 hours in advance, and all planes must pass through one of 27 "gateway airports" where re-inspections of aircraft, passengers, and baggage take place. An armed security officer must be on board before departing a gateway airport. [47] On March 23, 2011, the air traffic control supervisor on duty reportedly fell asleep during the night shift. Two aircraft on approach to the airport were unable to contact anyone in the control tower and landed unassisted. [48]

Perimeter restrictions

A map of North America with a circle to indicate a 1,250-statute-mile (2,010 km) radius from the airport along with major cities inside and outside of the perimeter restriction
A map of North America, with the circle indicating a 1,250-statute-mile (2,010 km) radius from the airport, showing major cities that fall inside and outside of the perimeter restriction.

Reagan National Airport is subject to a federally mandated perimeter limitation and may not accommodate nonstop flights to or from cities beyond 1,250-statute-mile (2,010 km), with limited exceptions. The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued "beyond-perimeter slot exemptions" which allow specified carriers to operate 20 daily round-trip flights to cities outside the perimeter. The current exemptions are:

Alaska 10 slots operating as 2x Seattle/Tacoma, 1x Los Angeles, 1x Portland (OR), 1x San Francisco
American 12 slots operating as 2x Los Angeles, 3x Phoenix–Sky Harbor, 1x Las Vegas
Delta 4 slots operating as 1x Salt Lake City, 1x Los Angeles
Frontier 6 slots operating as 3x Denver
JetBlue 2 slots operating as 1x San Juan
Southwest 2 slots operating as 1x Austin
United 4 slots operating as 1x Denver, 1x San Francisco

In 1999, Senator John McCain of Arizona introduced legislation to remove the 1,250-statute-mile (2,010 km) restriction. [49] In the end the restriction was not lifted, but in 2000 the FAA was permitted to add 24 exemptions, which went not to America West but to competitor Alaska Airlines. America West later gained additional exemptions for non-stop flights to Phoenix in 2004. In May 2012, the DOT granted new exemptions for Alaska to serve Portland, JetBlue to serve San Juan, Southwest to serve Austin, and Virgin America to serve San Francisco. American, Delta, United and US Airways were also each allowed to exchange a pair of in-perimeter slots for an equal number of beyond-perimeter slots. [50]


National Hall connecting Terminals B and C

Terminal A

Designed by architect Charles M. Goodman, terminal A opened in 1941 and was expanded in 1955 to accommodate more passengers and airlines. The exterior of this terminal has had its original architecture restored, with the airside facade restored in 2004 and the landside facade restored in 2008. [51] The terminal underwent a $37 million renovation that modernized the airport's look by bringing in brighter lighting, more windows and new flooring. The project was completed in 2014 along with a new expanded TSA security checkpoint. [52] In 2014, additional renovations were announced including new upgraded concessions and further structural improvements, the project was completed in 2015. [53] Terminal A contains gates 1–9 and houses operations from Air Canada Express, Frontier and Southwest.

Terminals B and C

Terminals B and C are the airport's newest and largest terminals; the terminals opened in 1997 and replaced a collection of airline-specific terminals built during the 1960s. The new terminals were designed by architect Cesar Pelli and house 35 gates. Both terminals share the same structure and are directly connected to the WMATA airport station via indoor pedestrian bridges.

Terminal B and C have three concourses. Terminal B (gates 10–22) houses Alaska Airlines, Delta and United. Terminal B/C (gates 23–34) houses American and JetBlue. Terminal C (gates 35–45) is exclusive to American. [54] The corridor/hall connecting the three concourses of Terminal B and C is known as National Hall. Terminal B houses a Delta Sky Club and United Club, and there are American Admirals Clubs in both Terminal B/C and Terminal C. [55]

Terminal D

MWAA has begun construction of a new concourse north of Terminal C to accommodate 14 new regional jet gates with jetways. This will replace "Gate 35X," a bus gate currently used to bring passengers to and from American Eagle flights that use parking spots on the ramp. In addition, the individual security checkpoints for the three concourses in Terminals B and C will be replaced with higher-capacity security checkpoints in a new building to the west of National Hall and above the existing arrivals roadway, placing all of National Hall within the secured area of the airport and allowing passengers to walk between concourses without re-clearing security. Construction commenced in February 2018 and is expected to be complete by 2021. [56]

Airlines and destinations


Air Canada Express Montréal–Trudeau, Ottawa, Toronto–Pearson [57]
Alaska Airlines Los Angeles, Portland (OR), San Francisco, Seattle/Tacoma [58]
American Airlines Boston, Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York–JFK, New York–LaGuardia, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Tampa
Seasonal: Bermuda, Fort Myers, West Palm Beach
American Eagle Akron/Canton, Albany, Atlanta, Bangor, Birmingham (AL), Buffalo, Burlington (VT), Charleston (SC), Charleston (WV), Charlotte, Chattanooga, Chicago–O'Hare, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbia (SC), Columbus–Glenn, Dayton, Detroit, Des Moines, Fayetteville/Bentonville, Grand Rapids, Greensboro, Greenville/Spartanburg, Hartford, Huntsville, Indianapolis, Jackson (MS), Jacksonville (FL), Kansas City, Key West, Knoxville, Lansing, Little Rock, Louisville, Manchester (NH), Memphis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Montgomery, Myrtle Beach, Nashville, New Orleans, New York–JFK, Norfolk, Oklahoma City (begins February 14, 2019), [60] Pensacola, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland (ME), Providence, Raleigh/Durham, Rochester (NY), Sarasota, Savannah, St. Louis, Syracuse, Tallahassee, Toronto–Pearson, West Palm Beach, White Plains, Wilmington
Seasonal: Augusta (GA), Fort Myers, Fort Walton Beach, Hilton Head (begins May 4, 2019), [61] Martha's Vineyard, Melbourne (FL) (begins May 4, 2019), [62] Nantucket, Nassau
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Cincinnati (resumes September 9, 2019), Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–LaGuardia, Salt Lake City [63]
Delta Connection Boston (begins September 8, 2019), [64] Lexington, Madison, New York–JFK, Omaha, Raleigh/Durham
Seasonal: Cincinnati, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Orlando
Frontier Airlines Denver [65]
JetBlue Airways Boston, Charleston (SC), Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Hartford, Jacksonville (FL), Nassau, Orlando, San Juan, Tampa, West Palm Beach
Seasonal: Nantucket
Southwest Airlines Atlanta, Austin, Chicago–Midway, Columbus–Glenn, Dallas–Love, Fort Lauderdale, Houston–Hobby, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Nashville, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, [67] Omaha, Orlando, Providence, St. Louis, Tampa
Seasonal: Fort Myers
United Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark, San Francisco [69]
United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Cleveland, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark [69]


In 2013, Reagan National Airport handled 20,415,085 passengers, which was a new record. [70] From April 2014 to March 2015, the airport handled 21,195,775 passengers, which is slightly higher than the aforementioned record. [71] American Airlines, following its merger with US Airways, has the largest share of traffic at the airport, accounting for 50.0% of the market share as of May 2017. Southwest, the second largest, accounts for 15.0%, with Delta Air Lines in third with 14.4%. [71]

Top destinations

Busiest domestic routes from DCA
(October 2017 – September 2018)
Rank Airport Passengers Carriers
1 Georgia (U.S. state) Atlanta, Georgia 836,610 American, Delta, Southwest
2 Illinois Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 780,440 American, United
3 Massachusetts Boston, Massachusetts 711,240 American, JetBlue
4 Texas Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 453,430 American
5 Florida Orlando, Florida 443,850 American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest
6 Florida Miami, Florida 422,810 American, Delta
7 North Carolina Charlotte, North Carolina 348,750 American
8 New York (state) New York–LaGuardia, New York 317,840 American, Delta
9 Minnesota Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota 296,490 American, Delta
10 Michigan Detroit, Michigan 295,910 American, Delta

Airline market share

Largest Airlines at DCA (October 2017 - September 2018) [73]
Rank Airline Passengers Market Share
1 American Airlines 5,672,000 25.28%
2 Southwest Airlines 3,391,000 15.11%
3 Delta Air Lines 2,467,000 10.99%
4 JetBlue Airways 1,780,000 7.93%
5 United Airlines 1,141,000 5.09%

Annual traffic


Annual passenger traffic (enplaned + deplaned) at DCA, 1941 through 2017 [74]
Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers
2010 18,118,713 2000 15,888,199 1990 15,805,496 1980 14,540,089 1970 9,768,375 1960 4,725,605 1950 1,629,723
2009 17,577,359 1999 15,185,348 1989 15,385,240 1979 15,134,017 1969 10,247,537 1959 5,005,746 1949 1,386,887
2008 18,028,287 1998 15,970,306 1988 16,014,585 1978 14,176,233 1968 9,968,015 1958 4,533,623 1948 1,186,676
2017 23,928,248 2007 18,679,343 1997 15,907,006 1987 15,703,410 1977 13,258,200 1967 9,383,352 1957 4,463,227 1947 1,140,945
2016 23,595,006 2006 18,550,785 1996 15,226,500 1986 14,544,523 1976 12,336,534 1966 7,919,955 1956 3,964,113 1946 1,230,480
2015 23,039,429 2005 17,847,884 1995 15,506,244 1985 14,690,471 1975 11,369,061 1965 6,951,845 1955 3,634,951 1945 756,537
2014 20,810,387 2004 15,944,542 1994 15,700,825 1984 14,842,922 1974 11,706,028 1964 6,188,292 1954 3,102,875 1944 557,145
2013 20,415,085 2003 14,223,123 1993 16,307,808 1983 14,461,437 1973 11,715,578 1963 5,464,010 1953 2,720,024 1943 360,563
2012 19,655,440 2002 12,881,601 1992 15,593,535 1982 13,321,098 1972 11,121,965 1962 4,837,166 1952 2,492,354 1942 459,396
2011 18,823,094 2001 13,265,387 1991 15,098,697 1981 14,175,058 1971 10,377,308 1961 4,646,154 1951 2,458,717 1941 344,257


Annual aircraft operations at DCA, 1941 through 2017 [74]
Year Operations Year Operations Year Operations Year Operations Year Operations Year Operations Year Operations Year Operations
2010 271,097 2000 297,879 1990 313,740 1980 352,166 1970 319,449 1960 292,146 1950 148,748
2009 272,146 1999 291,765 1989 311,207 1979 352,904 1969 337,084 1959 309,340 1949 165,033
2008 277,298 1998 297,093 1988 322,403 1978 352,044 1968 346,417 1958 280,842 1948 160,352
2017 293,027 2007 275,433 1997 304,636 1987 321,182 1977 345,452 1967 334,630 1957 276,717 1947 159,690
2016 295,421 2006 276,419 1996 298,086 1986 319,711 1976 326,083 1966 312,494 1956 257,762 1946 180,690
2015 292,676 2005 276,056 1995 304,876 1985 306,354 1975 306,494 1965 309,562 1955 225,914 1945 152,067
2014 283,180 2004 268,576 1994 306,529 1984 337,538 1974 312,216 1964 289,740 1954 202,573 1944 107,315
2013 292,656 2003 250,802 1993 312,346 1983 334,431 1973 339,904 1963 294,797 1953 195,649 1943 93,086
2012 288,176 2002 215,691 1992 301,668 1982 307,377 1972 331,429 1962 280,831 1952 184,460 1942 77,348
2011 281,770 2001 244,008 1991 292,926 1981 337,132 1971 329,972 1961 290,339 1951 186,747 1941 43,060


Annual cargo in pounds at DCA, 1953 through 2014 [74]
Year Pounds Year Pounds Year Pounds Year Pounds Year Pounds Year Pounds Year Pounds
2010 14,499,823 2000 17,586,066 1990 32,509,219 1980 56,325,260 1970 99,699,244 1960 46,215,207
2009 12,800,858 1999 21,971,410 1989 30,366,244 1979 75,847,600 1969 100,459,572 1959 41,627,600
2008 7,290,740 1998 21,782,789 1988 36,166,493 1978 85,086,800 1968 99,866,380 1958 37,629,200
2017 1,102,030 2007 4,893,162 1997 24,834,167 1987 34,588,361 1977 83,331,949 1967 98,670,923 1957 35,382,800
2016 4,199,806 2006 5,964,248 1996 27,759,073 1986 33,855,834 1976 83,331,530 1966 93,850,459 1956 35,405,200
2015 5,632,811 2005 5,717,535 1995 29,683,109 1985 42,189,330 1975 76,531,913 1965 84,831,196 1955 31,950,800
2014 3,931,310 2004 5,966,901 1994 32,231,886 1984 37,331,864 1974 101,234,081 1964 68,018,156 1954 24,399,200
2013 4,071,926 2003 6,769,285 1993 32,602,728 1983 37,219,349 1973 114,390,883 1963 60,999,925 1953 24,388,400
2012 13,138,554 2002 6,009,252 1992 33,070,877 1982 39,036,625 1972 107,927,022 1962 57,776,894 1952
2011 13,802,787 2001 11,956,328 1991 31,684,130 1981 44,494,833 1971 97,041,854 1961 50,321,765 1951

Ground transportation


The Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport station on the Washington Metro, serving the Yellow and Blue lines, is located on an elevated outdoor platform station adjacent to Terminals B and C. Two elevated pedestrian walkways connect the station directly to the concourse levels of Terminals B and C. An underground pedestrian walkway and shuttle services provide access to Terminal A.


Metrobus provides service on weekend mornings before the Metro station opens or during any disruptions to regular Metro service.


Taxicab services are available at the Ground Transportation area of all terminal buildings. Taxicabs that serve the airport are required to be licensed and are regulated by either Washington, D.C., or Virginia local governments.

Transportation network companies

Lyft and Uber are approved to pick up and drop off passengers.

Airport shuttle

Shared-ride shuttle services are available from several providers including SuperShuttle, Limos 4 Less and Supreme Shuttle.


Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is located on the George Washington Memorial Parkway, and connected to U.S. Route 1 by the Airport Viaduct ( State Route 233). Interstate 395 is just north of the airport, and is also accessible by the G.W. Parkway and U.S. Route 1. [75] Airport-operated parking garage facilities as well as economy lots are available adjacent to or near the various airport terminals.

Pedestrian and bicycle

The airport is accessible by bicycle and foot from the Mt. Vernon Trail, as well as the sidewalk along the Airport Viaduct ( State Route 233), which connects the airport grounds to U.S. Route 1. A total of 48 bike parking spots are available across six separate bike racks. The Airport is planning to have a Capital Bikeshare station installed sometime in 2016. [76]

Abingdon plantation historical site

A part of the airport is located on the former site of the 18th and 19th century Abingdon plantation, which was associated with the prominent Alexander, Custis, Stuart, and Hunter families. [77] In 1998, MWAA opened a historical display around the restored remnants of two Abingdon buildings and placed artifacts collected from the site in an exhibit hall in Terminal A. [78] [79] The Abingdon site is located on a knoll between parking Garage A and Garage B/C, near the south end of the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport Metrorail station. [78] [80] [81] [82]

Accidents and incidents

Eastern Air Lines Flight 537

On November 1, 1949, a mid-air collision between an Eastern Air Lines passenger aircraft and a P-38 Lightning military plane took the lives of 55 passengers. The sole survivor was the Bolivian ace pilot of the fighter plane, Erick Rios Bridoux. [83]

Bridoux's plane had taken off from National just 10 minutes earlier and was in contact with the tower during a brief test flight. The Eastern Air Lines DC-4 was on approach from the south when the nimble and much faster P-38 banked and plunged right into the passenger plane. Both aircraft dropped into the Potomac River.

Capital Airlines Flight 500

On December 12, 1949, Capital Airlines Flight 500, a Douglas DC-3, stalled and crashed into the Potomac River while on approach to Reagan National. Six of the 23 passengers and crew on board were killed. [84]

Air Florida Flight 90

On the afternoon of January 13, 1982, [85] following a period of exceptionally cold weather and a morning of blizzard conditions, Air Florida Flight 90 crashed after waiting forty-nine minutes on a taxiway and taking off with ice and snow on the wings. The Boeing 737 aircraft failed to gain altitude. Less than 1 statute mile (1.6 km) from the end of the runway, the airplane struck the 14th Street Bridge complex, shearing the tops off vehicles stuck in traffic before plunging through the 1-inch-thick (25 mm) ice covering the Potomac River. Rescue responses were greatly hampered by the weather and traffic. Due to action on the part of motorists, a United States Park Service police helicopter crew, and one of the plane's passengers who later perished, five occupants of the downed plane survived. The other 74 people who were aboard died, as well as four occupants of vehicles on the bridge. President Reagan cited motorist Lenny Skutnik in his State of the Union Address a few weeks later.


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External links