Reagan National Airport Back in Business Proximity to Pentagon, White House Kept Washington Airport Closed Longer Than Any Other
Gutowski, Christy, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Christy Gutowski Daily Herald Staff Writer
Limited air travel returned Thursday to Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport, the last in the country to reopen since the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks.
In preparation for the historic day, United Airlines and others scrambled to get passengers flying out of nearby airports such as Dulles International to switch their travel plans to Reagan National.
"It's an important first step forward for the airline industry and the nation," said Chris Bowers, a senior vice president of the Elk Grove Village-based United Airlines.
For now, United is offering six round-trip flights on Boeing 727s between O'Hare and Reagan National. The once-bustling airport is expected to operate at about a quarter of normal levels for the next three weeks, officials said.
Reagan National, on the banks of the Potomac River that separates Washington from Virginia, is popular with lawmakers, residents and tourists because it lies close to the capital's centers of power.
That very proximity to the White House and key federal buildings worried officials after hijacked planes slammed into U.S. landmarks - including the Pentagon - on Sept. 11. Reagan National is about a mile from the Pentagon.
Earlier this week, United telephoned travelers such as Wayne and GiGi St. Clair, requesting they switch their departing flight Thursday out of Dulles to Reagan National Airport. …