A passenger jet flies past the control tower at Reagan National Airport. (Cliff Owen/AP)

Officials said that growth was almost 4 percent ahead of 2010. However, MWAA, which operates both Reagan and Dulles International airports, said traffic at Dulles fell 1.6 percent compared to 2010.

‘Even during these challenging times for the aviation industry, we are very pleased that in 2011 we were able to not only continue to provide excellent air service for the region but also to attract new airlines and service,” Jack Potter, president and CEO of MWAA, said in a statement. ”We will continue to work to keep the Washington region one of the stronger air service markets in the country for both passengers and cargo.”

Despite the dip at Dulles, officials said it still served more passengers last year than each of the region’s other two airports, 23.2 million. MWAA officials said international traffic at Dulles grew 1.6 percent to 6.5 million passengers.

Earlier this month Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport announced that it had also set a record in 2011. BWI served 22,391,785 passengers last year, airport officials said.