Led the DCA team for 17 years of distinguished 58-year career

J. Paul Malandrino will retire at the end of May after 17 years as Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Vice President and Reagan National Airport Manager. His leadership and career accomplishments spanned 58 years, including 30 years of military service. Malandrino guided Reagan National Airport through a period of momentous challenge and growth, including navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and changes from major construction in response to unprecedented passenger activity. 

picture of Paul Malandrino

During Malandrino’s tenure, the airport’s annual passenger totals rose from 18 million to more than 25 million, setting new records. Operating on a limited footprint with no room to expand, the airport’s primary runway became known as the busiest runway in America. To ease terminal crowding, the airport team opened a new 14-gate concourse and two new security checkpoint buildings through the $1 billion Project Journey in 2021. For his leadership through challenging times, Malandrino was named 2021-2022 Airport Manager of the Year by the Virginia Department of Aviation.

Malandrino worked for nearly six decades in the aviation sector. He assumed his position of vice president and airport manager at Reagan National in July 2006. Prior to taking the helm at DCA, he was the federal security director with the Transportation Security Administration at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport for four years. Before joining the TSA at BWI, he served six years as manager of the airport operations department at Dulles International Airport.

Friends and colleagues thanked and congratulated Malandrino for his impact on the airport, the community and their lives. At a May 23 farewell luncheon overlooking the airfield, more than 130 attendees applauded his achievements and celebrated his legacy. 

“I offer my sincerest thanks to Paul for his service to the Airports Authority and to our country during his extensive and impactful career,” said Jack Potter, Airports Authority president and CEO. “Paul’s hands-on and personal leadership style set a high standard for everyone around him. Paul will be greatly missed by countless people he met and worked with at ‘the little airport by the water,’ as he calls it. We wish him all the best in his well-deserved retirement.”

Keith Meurlin, president of the Washington Airports Task Force and former Dulles Airport manager, said, “I was lucky enough to hire Paul in July 1996 as the manager of operations at Dulles, where he brought a very calm and steady leadership style which was perfect for what we needed. He was a constant presence about the airport with his signature unlit cigar, checking on his employees and advocating for his people. I was very fortunate to have Paul as acting airport manager during September 11th, 2001. Paul’s leadership skills were put to the test as he mobilized the airport, airline and support staff to deal with the situation. I will always be grateful for the support and counsel I received from Paul.”

“Paul is the epitome of a public servant,” said Dick DeiTos, president of the committee that serves as an ombudsman for airlines at Reagan National and Dulles International airports. “His vast aviation experience as a military pilot, security regulator and airport manager allowed him to view problems and issues from multiple angles and understand differing stakeholder perspectives. His passion, knowledge, calmness and sincerity will be sorely missed. Paul is a gentleman and an honest broker.”

John Busch, Reagan National’s federal security director for the Transportation Security Administration, said, “Paul has been instrumental in forging a collaborative relationship between the Airports Authority and TSA. His drive to ensure the entire airport environment is safe and secure made TSA’s job so much more effective. Paul is a consummate public servant, devoting his life to the security of our nation at every stop of his career. He is also a seasoned leader who always made his team shine and did so with grace and care for the people in his charge. I will personally miss working with him as a colleague, and TSA will miss him as a genuine partner in our security mission.”

A Massachusetts native, Malandrino retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1996 after 30 years on active duty. He spent most of his Air Force career as a pilot, flying different versions of the Strategic Air Command’s F-111 long-range supersonic fighter-bomber jet. One of his many assignments was serving as the commanding officer of the famed 380th Bombardment Wing at Plattsburgh Air Force Base in New York.