Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority

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Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Logo.jpg
Abbreviation MWAA
Formation June 7, 1987
Type Airport authority
Headquarters Washington National Airport, Arlington County, Virginia, United States
Region served
Washington metropolitan area
John E. Potter

Operators of Washington Dulles International Airport
Washington Reagan National Airport
Dulles Toll Road

and Constructor of the Metro Silver Line[1]

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) is an independent airport authority, created by the Commonwealth of Virginia, the State of Maryland, and the District of Columbia with the consent of the United States Congress to oversee management, operations, and capital development of the two major airports serving the capital: Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport.

The Authority, which is an independent public body corporate and politic,[3] leases the airports from the United States Department of Transportation. The U.S. government originally built the airports and continues to own the underlying airport property except for property acquired by MWAA subsequent to the lease. The Authority has its headquarters on the grounds of Reagan National Airport in Arlington County, Virginia.[4]

Though commonly considered one of Washington's three major airports, Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport is not part of MWAA but is owned by the State of Maryland, operated through the Maryland Aviation Administration, which purchased then "Friendship Airport" from the City of Baltimore in 1972.


The Authority was created by the Commonwealth of Virginia (1985 Acts of Assembly, Ch 598, as amended) and the District of Columbia (Regional Airports Authority Act of 1985, as amended). On June 7, 1987, Washington Dulles International Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (formerly known as Washington National Airport) were transferred to MWAA under a 50‑year lease authorized by the U.S. Congress in the Metropolitan Washington Airports Act of 1986, Title VI of Public Law 99‑500. Prior to the transfer, the airports were owned and operated by the federal government through the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States Department of Transportation. By operation of the transfer act, all property owned by the FAA at the airports was transferred to the new Authority, with the Federal government retaining title to the lease, the original 50‑year lease has been extended to 80 years, expiring in June 2067. Information about MWAA and the airports is available at MWAA's official website.

MWAA was a founding member of the Capital-to-Capital Coalition, the group which successfully advocated for the awarding the right to operate a non-stop flight between Beijing, China, and Washington, D.C.[5]

Governing body[edit]

The Authority is governed by a 13-member Board of Directors with five members appointed by the Governor of Virginia, three by the Mayor of Washington, D.C., two by the Governor of Maryland, and three by the President of the United States. On November 18, 2011, President Barack Obama signed into law H.R. 2112, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2012.[6] One section of the bill increased the membership of the Board of Directors to 17 members, by giving Virginia two new board members and one additional member to both the District of Columbia and Maryland.[7] Based upon advice of counsel, due to the unique nature of MWAA and through operation of the Compact Clause of the United States Constitution, it is believed that this change will not take effect until both the District and Virginia have enacted similar laws.[7]

As of September 2015, the Chair of the Board of Directors was Frank M. Conner III, an appointee of the Governor of Virginia, with Warner H. Session serving as Vice Chair.[8] Leading the Management of the Authority were President and Chief Executive Officer John E. Potter, who took office on July 11, 2011, and Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Margaret E. McKeough. Potter was appointed to the post after a nationwide search was conducted for a permanent President and CEO after the retirement of then-President and CEO Jim Bennett in April 2010.[9] Former CFO Lynn Hampton was appointed as interim President and CEO on April 13, 2010, for the period while the nationwide search was being conducted,[10] she was eventually replaced by Potter as President and CEO by the Board of Directors on July 11, 2011.[11] Each airport operated by MWAA is under the direction of a Vice President and Airport Manager. Christopher Browne is Vice President and Airport Manager for Washington Dulles International Airport [12] while J. Paul Malandrino, Jr., is Vice President and Airport Manager for Reagan National Airport.[13]

Dulles Access Highway and Toll Road[edit]

MWAA's lease encompasses the Dulles Access Highway right-of-way, the Dulles Airport Access Highway serves traffic to and from Dulles Airport only. Since 2008, MWAA owns the Dulles Toll Road, the outer lanes of the right-of-way which were built by the Virginia Department of Transportation, use of which is subject to a toll. However, the inner lanes of the Access Highway are free of charge for drivers going directly between Dulles Airport and the surrounding area.[14]

Police and fire[edit]

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority has its own, full-service, state (Virginia) accredited police department which patrols airport properties and grounds, including the Dulles Airport Access Highway, the Dulles Toll Road and the area 300 yards surrounding the airports.[15] The Virginia State Police, and Fairfax County police also exercise police power over the airport property within their respective jurisdiction including the Dulles Airport Access Highway and the Dulles Toll Road.[16] Virginia law also grants concurrent jurisdiction to the Arlington County Police for Reagan National Airport.[17]

The Authority also has a full-service Fire and Rescue Department that operates at both Dulles and National Airports, the Authority's Fire and Rescue Department provides a wide range of services to the airports including aircraft rescue firefighting in accordance with the standards of the Federal Aviation Administration, structural firefighting, emergency medical services (basic and advanced life support) and river rescue (at National Airport).[18] The Authority's Fire & Rescue Department will also provide mutual-aid services to the surrounding jurisdictions, as needed, under a Memorandum of Understanding signed by several jurisdictions in Northern Virginia.[19] As an example, firefighters from National Airport were among the first responders to the Pentagon following the crash of American Airlines Flight 77 on September 11, 2001.[20]


  1. ^ "Dulles Metrorail Project Overview". Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project. Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. 2010. Archived from the original on 2010-12-13. Retrieved 2015-09-14. 
  2. ^ Facts. Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
  3. ^ VA Code § 5.1-153.
  4. ^ "Contacting the Airports Authority." Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Retrieved on March 2, 2010.
  5. ^
  6. ^ See Memo to MWAA Board of Directors from legal counsel, available at
  7. ^ a b Id.
  8. ^ (1) "Frank M. Connner III". About the Airports Authority. Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Archived from the original on 2015-09-14. Retrieved 2015-09-14. 
    (2) "Warner H. Session". About the Airports Authority. Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority. Archived from the original on 2015-09-14. Retrieved 2015-09-14. 
  9. ^ [1] Archived September 25, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^
  11. ^ John Potter Selected as President and CEO for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
  12. ^ Keith Meurlin Retires from Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. (2005-02-16). Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Highway Lanes Archived 2011-06-10 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
  15. ^ Virginia Code 5.1-158.
  16. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions (MWAA)". Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. 
  17. ^ Virginia Code 5.1-158
  18. ^ Services. Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
  19. ^
  20. ^ Airports Authority Fire Fighters Honored. (2002-04-23). Retrieved on 2013-08-16.

External links[edit]