Travel Expected to Rise As People's Fears Ease
Independence Air, a new regional carrier based at Dulles, will launch next month with about 600 takeoffs and landings by the end of the summer. Frontier Airlines, Jet Blue, Al Italia and Ted, a low-fare subsidiary of United Airlines, have expanded service at Dulles, officials said.
Those carriers should help return passenger traffic at Dulles close to the 20 million mark this year, about where it was in 2000 before it reached a low of 16.9 million last year, officials said.
Similarly, traffic at National is expected to rebound to an average of 15 million passengers this year, after dropping as low as 12.9 million in 2002.
BWI officials said the airport reached pre-Sept. 11 levels last year and has experienced double-digit increases in travel since then.
"This year the attitude is, 'I'm going, and that's it,' " said Terry Trippler, president of the travel Web site terrytrippler.com. "We'd seen the planet before September 11, and we got hooked. It just took us a while to get back."
Still, on holiday weekends such as Memorial Day, most people simply hit the road. You don't have to tell Carl Lebo, a dentist from Rockville who is going to extremes to minimize time spent in the car (with whiny children) and maximize time spent on the beach (with sun and ocean breezes). Lebo has given his four-person office the day off today so he and his family can drive to their house in Bethany Beach, Del., early this morning instead of fighting traffic later in the day.
"It takes the pressure off," Lebo said. "It makes the entire trip more pleasant, and you get a whole extra day." A 2 1/2-hour drive instead of the five-hour "horror story" he has suffered in the past also cuts down considerably on the complaining from his 13-year-old and 11-year-old, he noted.
To make sure anxiety about traffic doesn't spoil any of the weekend, Lebo said, the family will return early Tuesday instead of with the masses Monday.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company