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Proposal would mean new regional gates at Dulles Airport, but the 'mobile lounges' would stay

April 09, 2022
4 min read
Dulles Sunrise
Proposal would mean new regional gates at Dulles Airport, but the 'mobile lounges' would stay
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There could be good news on the horizon for passengers at Dulles International Airport (IAD). A new proposal announced by the airport’s governing body this week could eventually mean the end of the Concourse A gates that serve regional flights, which currently require travelers to walk outside when boarding and deplaning.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which runs both Dulles and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), announced Thursday that it’s seeking federal help to build a new, 14-gate concourse at Dulles. The new facility would replace the existing, regional jet section of Concourse A.

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If this proposal moves forward, it would mean much more modern facilities for travelers passing through Dulles, which in addition to serving the Washington, D.C. region, serves a large number of connecting passengers, since the airport is a major hub for United Airlines.

This project would not spell the end of the airport’s concourses C and D, where United operates gates, a replacement for which has long been at the center of discussion.

A mobile lounge passes the iconic old control tower at Dulles International Airport on Aug. 7, 2019. (Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post/Getty Images)

The proposal by MWAA follows the 2021 opening of a new concourse at DCA, which meant the end of Gate 35X, where passengers previously had to ride a shuttle from the terminal to their aircraft.

Related: Frontier wants to ditch jet bridges in Denver

The proposal

The proposal announced Thursday by MWAA involves a “modern” concourse with 14 new gates, along with shops, restaurants and other customer services. This 400,000-square-foot facility would replace the existing 100,000-square-foot eastern section of the A concourse which was built in the 1990s. Currently, regional jet passengers accessing aircraft in that concourse must walk outdoors under covered walkways to get to and from the plane.

According to a map MWAA sent to TPG, when standing in the main terminal at Dulles, the new proposed concourse would be located beyond the existing C and D concourses where United operates its hub.

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(Image courtesy of Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority)

Airport officials say the new gates would be accessible both by the AeroTrain and the airport’s “mobile lounges,” or people movers.

The project is expected to cost between $500 million and $800 million, but MWAA is seeking $230 million in funding through the recent infrastructure bill passed by Congress.

“This new concourse would represent a major improvement in the passenger experience at the regional gates,” Airports Authority president and CEO Jack Potter said in a statement Thursday. As part of the same statement, United Airlines said it “strongly” encourages the Federal Aviation Administration to sign off on the funding, which MWAA says will help facilitate this project.

Since the proposal has not yet been approved, it’s not clear when construction on the new facility might start, or end.

Bigger improvement plans in the works

While this would represent a major upgrade for passengers at Dulles, it’s important to note that this proposal would not serve as a replacement for concourses C or D, which have been the subject of discussion between airport officials and United Airlines for decades.

Potter acknowledged the need for future improvements at Dulles as part of his statement announcing the new regional gates, calling this proposal a “first step in a long-term strategy” seeking to upgrade facilities at Dulles.

MWAA told TPG this week that “talks continue with United on proposals to replace the C/D concourse.”

Featured image by Getty Images
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