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More flights to depart from Reagan National

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The second phase of Reagan National Airport's gradual return to a normal flight load began Friday, with the airport expected to see about 100 flights added to its daily schedule immediately, and another 200 in coming weeks.

Shut down with the rest of the nation's airports after the September 11 terror attacks, Reagan National did not reopen until October 4, making it the last U.S. airport to resume takeoffs and landings. The first phase opened the airport for eight destinations, serviced by six airlines.

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Located across the Potomac River from the Washington governmental center -- and very near the Pentagon -- Reagan National was kept shut down because authorities were working out more comprehensive security measures for the facility.

Last week, Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta said tighter measures would be put in place when Phase II begins, but he did not detail those plans.

Friday's additional flights will bring Reagan National up to about 250 daily flights -- roughly one-third of the flight load it carried before September 11. Airport authority spokesman Tom Sullivan said the airport hoped to reach at least 45 percent "in the next couple of weeks."

For Phase II, the Department of Transportation cleared the airport to add 18 more destinations, but Sullivan said not all of the newly authorized flights will begin Friday.

"Some will start today," Sullivan said. "It's up to the airlines. And some won't be new service, but will be increased flights to existing destinations."

When Phase II is completed in 45 days, the airport will handle about 450 daily flights to 26 destinations. Sullivan said the airport authority expects to hear from the federal government about a Phase III "in late November or early December."


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