Gov. Larry Hogan has fired Paul J. Wiedefeld, the veteran chief executive of Thurgood Marshall Baltimore-Washington International Airport, and replaced him with the director of Cleveland's Hopkins International Airport.
Hogan announced Friday that Ricky D. Smith Sr. has been named chief executive of BWI and head of the Maryland Aviation Administration. Smith, head of Cleveland's airport since 2006, previously served as operations chief at BWI.
"Governor Hogan believes Ricky Smith has the right vision and expertise to build upon the growth BWI has experienced in the past several years under the leadership of Paul Wiedefeld," said Shareese Churchill, a spokeswoman for Hogan.
The BWI chief executive serves at the will of the governor. Wiedefeld said Friday that he had been asked to leave.
"You do your best, and sometimes governors and [transportation] secretaries want to make a change," he said.
The salary for the chief executive position is $294,304.
Wiedefeld previously served as chief of BWI from 2002 to 2005. Gov. Martin O'Malley named him to head the Maryland Transit Administration in 2007, and two years later he returned to the top airport post.
BWI, the No. 22 airport in the United States by number of passengers, has posted steady growth in recent years. Hogan's release noted that international traffic -- an area Wiedefeld had emphasized -- increased 22.5 percent over last year and that this year four new airlines have announced plans to begin flying out of BWI.
While international traffic has grown in recent years, total passenger counts have shown small declines over the past two years since reaching 22.7 million in 2012.
Wiedefeld said BWI has been recovering from an industry downturn and that the first six months of this year have been "extremely strong."
"I'm sure we'll have our best year ever this year," he said. He said the airport is on a pace to exceed 23 million passengers.