The recently inaugurated regular service to South America by Ladeco Chilean Airlines adds an important new dimension to Baltimore-Washington International Airport. It is now possible for Marylanders to fly -- or ship cargo -- from BWI to Santiago three times a week and then continue directly to Buenos Aires and Montevideo.
This new, long-awaited South American route is a significant step in BWI's development into a truly competitive international gateway. This can only benefit the region's economy.
The addition last year of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Icelandair to carriers serving the overseas market has so bolstered BWI that the airport recorded a 41 percent increase in international passengers and 49 percent in air freight over the same period last year. "Our business is booming," reports Jay Hierholzer, the airport's marketing director.
If this growth continues, it promises to improve service by existing international carriers and attract new ones. Already, TWA has increased its service to London (and on to Frankfurt) to seven flights a week. To show that it regards BWI as a serious gateway, that daily European flight now originates and ends in San Francisco. As a bonus, Marylanders have won an extra non-stop flight to that important West Coast destination.
Ladeco's decision to come to Baltimore is particularly gratifying for two reasons:
With its strong economic performance, Chile has become an increasingly important country for traders and investors in recent years. A direct air link to Santiago can only benefit closer commercial contacts. It also nicely complements the export and import cargo business that is conducted through the Port of Baltimore.
Ladeco has served South America from Washington's Dulles International Airport for a number of years. The Chilean carrier's decision to leave Dulles for Baltimore is evidence of its intensifying cooperation with USAir, which operates 204 daily departures and a non-stop Canadian service from BWI. In the highly competitive airlines industry, a shift from Dulles to BWI will not go unnoticed.