By DOROTHY HOOD
ANNAPOLIS — The Board of Public Works agreed Wednesday to extend a concession contract for the Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport while a new vendor is identified.
Fraport Maryland, the current contractor, will maintain the right to lease, develop and manage food services, retail and service concessions in BWI. Gov. Wes Moore, D, restarted the contract process begun under his Republican predecessor, Gov. Larry Hogan.
The Maryland Aviation Administration, a division of the Maryland Department of Transportation, will ensure the continuity of concession services at BWI. This will allow the airport passengers needs to be met and create business opportunities for small and diverse businesses throughout Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, according to the BPW.
Fraport Maryland has been with BWI since 2004, seeing more than 27 million passengers a year. It manages more than 120,000 square feet of airport concession space.
In November, the MAA chose New Market Development to head the airport’s concession operations. The Landover-based firm did not receive final approval before Moore took office earlier this year. The founder and managing partner of the company is the former chief of staff to then- Gov. Parris Glendening, Major F. Riddick Jr. The selection was controversial because of the political connection and because it came at the end of Hogan’s term.
The modification approved by BPW Wednesday extends the contract, which is set to expire at the end of March, to a month-to-month basis with the right to terminate with 60 days prior written notice.
“The retail and concessions program at the airport – it is going to be a very key element to the growth and success of the airport,” Moore said at the BPW meeting. This is a “critical part to Maryland’s growth.”
BWI is the busiest airport in the Washington metropolitan area, handling more than 9 million passengers. BWI serves more than 51,000 passengers a day, and 36 airlines provide domestic, international, commuter, charter and cargo flights out of the airport.
The services provided in the airport is a critical matter that will benefit thousands of passengers that travel through BWI, Comptroller Brooke Lierman said at the meeting. The BPW is “thrilled” to be partnering together, said Lierman, to improve better wages and working conditions for workers in these concessions.
“For the past eight years they’ve been dealing with the frustration with … reports, refusal to work with workers who want to be union and to have labor peace at the airport,” Lierman said.
Treasurer Dereck Davis asked during the meeting about 26 current leases that are up at the end of this month, and how those businesses feel about the new month-to-month lease. He suggested that the state use a lease that would provide these businesses with more certainty.
To answer this, MAA Executive Director and CEO Ricky Smith said that they work very closely with their subtenants: “We went through extensive contract modifications to support themselves.” Smith said he is confident enough in the administration’s support for them and doesn’t see them vacating.
BPW is made up of three members, Moore, Treasurer Davis and Comptroller Lierman. Their job is to oversee all state spending.