The Washington area has a new top airport.

For the first time since 2003, more passengers used Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport than Washington Dulles International Airport.

BWI had 22.7 million passengers last year, beating out Dulles' 22.6 million -- a difference of about 100,000 travelers, according to numbers from both airports.

It was the third straight record year for BWI, while Dulles had more international passengers than ever but still saw fewer travelers overall. Dulles airport officials blame the decline on Congress allotting more flight slots to Washington Reagan National Airport, drawing travelers away from Dulles. The smaller National Airport saw a record number of passengers, 19.7 million, in 2012.

BWI Executive Director Paul Wiedefeld attributed BWI's growth to the economic strength of the region, low-cost flight options and the airport's "easy-come, easy-go" strategy to allow easy access to the airport.

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com