The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority board of directors, at its meeting Wednesday, approved a land lease adjacent to the future Loudoun Gateway Metrorail station along Route 606 as part of Phase 2 of the construction of the Silver Line project. The land lease to Loudoun County will allow for roadway improvements, a 1,965-space parking garage, pedestrian bridges, seven bus bays and other facilities connecting to the Metrorail station. The 12 acres that will be utilized in Phase 2 of the construction is part of a joint multi-jurisdictional partnership to construct the Silver Line, a 23-mile extension of the Washington region’s Metrorail public transit system through Fairfax County and into Loudoun County, Virginia.
Additionally, the directors adopted a new wage policy for airport workers and received financial reports and updates on infrastructure projects that will benefit airport customers. The meeting was held at Washington Dulles International Airport, where innovative upgrades to the Customs and Border Protection facilities are in the works to streamline processing international passengers.
The Airport Workers Wage Policy applies to two categories of businesses operating on the airports: Those providing various support services to airlines and those providing concession services. Airline support services include a variety of jobs such as aircraft cabin cleaning, aircraft fueling, aircraft mechanical work, aircraft de-icing, ramp area work, baggage handling, baggage delivery and wheelchair assistance.
Under the policy, wages paid by these businesses to their employees who work on the airports are to be no less than the following base wage rates: $11.55 starting on January 1, 2018; $12.15 on January 1, 2019; $12.75 on January 1, 2020; and thereafter annually adjusted rates reflecting inflation. Wages to tipped workers must be no less than $2.13 per hour, with a provision that actual hourly compensation with tips reflect at least the base wage rates. The board will review the policy in 2019.
The policy was adopted following a year of studying proposals, gathering stakeholder input, analyzing labor issues and researching best business practices. The policy reflects the board’s overarching intent to encourage a more stable, experienced and dedicated workforce throughout the airport community, resulting in fewer distractions and increased safety, security and customer service. The Airports Authority will administer the policy and work with airport businesses as they prepare to comply with the policy next January 1.
“Airport personnel – no matter their employer – are the first line of defense in a security network deployed to keep passengers and the public safe in an ever-changing and increasingly complex operating environment,” said Board Chairman William Shaw McDermott. “This policy, which is grounded in the need to ensure that competitive wages are paid by employers of airport workers, is a sound business and economic decision that supports the Airports Authority’s mission of providing safe, secure airports for the traveling public.”
The board also received a briefing on a project at Dulles intended to increase the efficiency of processing through the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities for international arriving travelers. Presently, passengers must navigate at least two separate queues within the Main Terminal when clearing CBP’s international arrivals facility. The airport partnered with CBP to implement a pilot program to co-locate functions and eliminate the second queue for travelers clearing primary inspection.
Success of a similar pilot program over the past year in the airport’s midfield customs facility led to development of a program for the more heavily traveled Main Terminal. Minor physical modifications are expected to be completed in early May before CBP adapts operational protocols and begins the 90-day pilot. Summer season travelers at Dulles will be among the first in the nation to benefit from the streamlined procedures and shorter wait times.
In other business, the 2016 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the Airports Authority was presented to the board’s finance committee. The Aviation Enterprise Fund results featured higher revenue and lower expenses than 2015, plus a strong balance sheet and improved debt service coverage. The Dulles Corridor Enterprise Fund results were consistent with 2015 and close to budgeted targets. The report’s financial statements received a “clean” audit opinion and will be published to the Authority’s website and other online financial libraries.
In May, the board is scheduled to meet for the first time in the Airports Authority’s re-located headquarters offices at 2733 Crystal Drive in Arlington, Virginia.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority operates Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, the Dulles Airport Access Highway and the Dulles Toll Road and also manages construction of the Silver Line project, a 23-mile extension of the Washington region’s Metrorail public transit system through Fairfax County and into Loudoun County, Virginia. More than 45 million passengers a year pass through the two airports. The Airports Authority generates more than generates more than 387,000 jobs in the National Capital Region.