Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority

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Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Logo.jpg
FormationJune 7, 1987
TypeAirport authority
HeadquartersWashington National Airport, Arlington County, Virginia, United States
Region served
Washington metropolitan area
John E. Potter
AffiliationsOperators 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 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 Airports Authority was established to operate as a financially self-sustaining entity with the mission to manage and enhance Washington, D.C.’s two-airport system. The authority [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 daily operation of the airports, their central administration, their police and fire departments and their payroll are not funded by tax dollars. Operating costs are paid through aircraft landing fees, rents for use of terminals and other facilities and revenues from concessions and parking. The Airports Authority is responsible for capital improvements at the airports, which are funded in part by passenger facility charges collected through airline tickets, Federal Airport Improvement Program funds and the proceeds of bonds issued by the Airports Authority.

In 2008, the Airports Authority’s responsibilities were expanded to include the operation of the Dulles Toll Road and management of the construction project to extend the metropolitan Washington region’s Metrorail mass transit system for 23 miles from the existing West Falls Church station in Virginia to Dulles International Airport and beyond into Loudoun County, Virginia. Tolls collected on the Dulles Toll Road are used to operate and improve the Toll Road and fund a portion of the construction of the Metrorail extension project.[4] Additional funding for the Metrorail project is supplied by federal grants and loans and by contributions from the Commonwealth of Virginia and Loudoun and Fairfax counties in Virginia.

The authority's headquarters is located less than a mile from Reagan National Airport in the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington County, Virginia.[5] A third major airport in the Washington region, Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport is located 9 miles south of downtown Baltimore. Marshall airport is not operated by MWAA but is owned by the State of Maryland and 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. Under 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.


The authority is governed by a 17-member board of directors with seven members appointed by the Governor of Virginia, four by the Mayor of Washington, D.C., three by the Governor of Maryland, and three by the President of the United States. Leading the management of the authority are president and chief executive officer, John E. Potter; executive vice president and chief operating officer, Margaret E. McKeough; and executive vice president and chief revenue officer, Jerome L. Davis. Potter was appointed to the post on June 11, 2011 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.[6] Each airport operated by MWAA is under the direction of a vice president and Airport Manager.

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.[7]

Dulles Corridor Metrorail Silver Line Project[edit]

MWAA is building a Silver Line extension of the DC Metrorail system, which will complete the long-awaited rail link between downtown Washington, Tysons, Reston, Dulles Airport and Eastern Loudoun County. Phase 1, which was completed in 2014, extended the Metrorail system to Reston, Virginia. Phase 2 will build the rail infrastructure, stations, pedestrian bridges to the stations, systems, and entrance pavilions, as well as the aerial tracks at Dulles Airport. A rail and maintenance yard on 90 acres of airport-owned property also is being built to serve the needs of the entire Metro system. The project is expected to be finished by 2020.

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.[8] 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.[9] Virginia law also grants concurrent jurisdiction to the Arlington County Police for Reagan National Airport.[10]

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).[11] 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.[12] 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.[13]


  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 Archived 2011-06-23 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
  3. ^ VA Code § 5.1-153.
  4. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. Retrieved January 14, 2008.
  5. ^ "Contacting the Airports Authority Archived 2010-02-09 at the Wayback Machine.." Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Retrieved on March 2, 2010.
  6. ^ John Potter Selected as president and CEO for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
  7. ^ Highway Lanes Archived 2011-06-10 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
  8. ^ Virginia Code 5.1-158.
  9. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions (MWAA)". Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Archived from the original on 2010-01-15.
  10. ^ Virginia Code 5.1-158
  11. ^ Services Archived 2010-12-16 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Airports Authority Fire Fighters Honored Archived 2010-11-27 at the Wayback Machine.. (2002-04-23). Retrieved on 2013-08-16.

External links[edit]