News from and about Dulles International and Reagan National airports:

Passenger Traffic Recovering Steadily

Passenger traffic at Washington airports has been recovering steadily from the recession and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to a report to Virginia legislators by James A. Wilding, president and chief executive of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

The report showed that 1.16 million passengers used Reagan National Airport in December, only 7.4 percent below December 2000. It said 1.48 million passengers used Dulles International Airport in December, nearly 3 percent more than in December 2000. Wilding cautioned that it was too early to tell whether the results indicated a full recovery for air travel here.

Air Traffic Controller Honored

Andy Pitas of Leesburg, a retired air traffic controller at Reagan National Airport, is the 2003 recipient of the Air Traffic Control Association's Glen A. Gilbert Memorial Award, given to individuals who have made an impact on the profession.

Gilbert played a key role in developing communication between air carriers in the 1930s, helping to establish the need for air traffic control at a time when air traffic was increasing. Pitas was also involved in establishing the Air Traffic Control Association in 1956.

Two Carriers Receive Six Flights

AirTran Holdings Inc. and Corporate Airlines Inc. received six of 12 new flights from National authorized under a law passed in 2000.

AirTran got four flights to Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers or West Palm Beach, Fla., on Boeing 717 jets, the Transportation Department announced. Corporate got two flights to Wilmington, Jacksonville or Fayetteville, N.C. The new flights are to begin by April.

The 12 flights originally were awarded to American Trans Air (four), Midwest Express (two), Spirit Airlines (four) and Midway Airlines (two.) Six slots became available again when Midway tried to give its slots to US Airways illegally and Spirit was unable to resume service in the required time frame after Sept. 11, 2001.

JetBlue to Fly Daily to California

As one of five new daily flights from Washington and New York to California, the low-fare carrier JetBlue Airways will fly from Dulles to Long Beach, Calif., starting May 1.

Delta to Operate New Song Airlines

Delta is launching a new cut-rate airline, Song, to compete with JetBlue on routes between the Northeast, including Dulles, and Florida, possibly Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa or Orlando. The carrier will offer in-flight entertainment, including digital TV, MP3 audio programming, Internet connections and video games, and will sell "premium-branded" food. Song will start operating from New York on April 15 and add about one route a week. Delta recently shut down its Delta Express low-fare carrier.

Aviation Hall of Famer Dies at 80

Vernard Laydon Worrell Jr., former member of the Washington Airports Task Force and former board member of the Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society, died of complications of heart problems Jan. 18, said task force President Leo Shefer. Worrell was 80. He helped found Wakefield Airport in Sussex County and to establish the Virginia Aviation Museum at Richmond International Airport.

-- Daniele Seiss and Yawandale Birchett