In the Region BWI growth slows into single digits for...

BUSINESS DIGEST

May 15, 2001

In the Region

BWI growth slows into single digits for 1st time in 28 months

Baltimore-Washington International Airport continues to lead the region's major airports in passenger traffic, moving more than 1.7 million travelers in March and 4.7 million passengers in the first three months of the year.

In keeping with the slowing economy, the airport's rate of growth slowed to 9.6 percent in March, compared with March 2000, marking the first time in 28 months that BWI did not post a double-digit gain in passenger traffic. However, it was still enough to put BWI ahead of Washington's Dulles International Airport and Reagan National Airport.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, the busiest carrier at BWI, continues to drive much of the growth. The no-frills airline handled 662,734 passengers in March, a 27.7 percent increase over March 2000. US Airways, the airport's No. 2 carrier, flew 425,157 passengers, up 7.9 percent from March 2000.

Firm designing new chip gets $6 million investment

Two venture capital firms announced yesterday a $6.3 million investment in a Beltsville start-up company that's designing a semiconductor chip they said will reduce bottlenecks of broadband data on the Internet.

Mohr, Davidow Ventures and Novak Biddle Venture Partners invested in Zagros Networks Inc., a company founded by the University of Maryland's dean of the Clark School of Engineering, Nariman Farvardin, and three doctoral students.

Zagros will use the financing for hiring, product development and business operations.

New York group buys 8 Columbia buildings

R. S. Columbia Holding LLC, a New York investment group, has purchased eight multi-use buildings in Columbia, the seller's commercial real estate broker, Colliers Pinkard, said yesterday. The purchase price was not disclosed.

The properties, known as Rumsey Center and Snowden Center, include eight "flex" buildings totaling 275,000 square feet on 22.5 acres. Flex buildings can accommodate a range of uses including distribution, office and light manufacturing.

Rumsey Center, in the Oakland Ridge Business Center, was built in 1980. Snowden Center, in the Sieling Business Park, was completed in 1987.

Group 1 Software buys Texas company

Group 1 Software Inc., a Lanham company that specializes in customer management software, has purchased HotData Inc., a developer of online services for data quality, for $2 million in cash and a percentage of revenue.

Group 1 said the purchase will help it expand its e-business products. HotData's 17 employees will remain in Austin, Texas. Twenty-year-old Group 1 employs more than 500 people.

Two weeks ago, Group 1 purchased TriSenseSoftware Ltd. of Minneapolis, which develops digital billing and payment software, for $8.1 million.

2 local marketing agencies win awards for creativity

Two local marketing agencies have won Summit Creative Awards in an international competition that recognizes excellence in firms with limited budgets.

The Leffler Agency Inc., which has offices in Baltimore and Tampa, Fla., won three silver awards and a bronze award for work it did for the Denver Broncos' new stadium and for Rover Wireless Corp.

Madison Media Inc., of Savage, received a silver award for work done for CloseCall America, a multistate telecommunications provider, and a bronze for a television spot promoting holiday shopping at Historic Savage Mill.

Elsewhere

Pay-phone calls are rising to 50 cents in Rockies, Northwest

The cost of a local call from a pay phone is being raised to 50 cents, up from 35 cents, across the Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountains.

The switch to the new rate begins today, but it will take up to four months before the change is made on all 96,000 pay phones operated by Qwest Communications International Inc. in the company's 14-state region.

Qwest announced the move yesterday, explaining that maintenance costs have been increasing while the popularity of wireless phones, calling cards and toll-free numbers have slashed local pay-phone use by 50 percent. Emergency 911 calls will still be free, the Denver-based phone monopoly said.

Supreme Court lets stand ruling against pilots' union

The Supreme Court turned away yesterday an appeal from the Delta Air Lines pilots' union over unauthorized protests waged by some unionized pilots.

Without comment, the justices let stand a lower court ruling that held the union must act to end the individual pilots' protest. The pilots refused to work overtime, which disrupted airline operations while the union and the airline were negotiating a new contract.

The Air Line Pilots Association, which represents Delta's 9,800 pilots, said it did not support the no-overtime protests and should not be made to answer for them. Delta claimed the pilots were trying to force a better deal.

The issue is probably moot, because the airline and the union have since tentatively agreed on a five-year contract. Pilots will begin voting next week on whether to ratify the contract.

Jenny Craig Inc. considers sale of the company

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