Gov. William Donald Schaefer said yesterday that he had appointed a nine-member advisory commission that ultimately could compose the private authority he's proposing to operate Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
The commission, announced during a breakfast at BWI for more than 200 corporate representatives, is designed to give business a more active role in the state-owned airport, which is operated by the Maryland Department of Transportation.
"We need to find more ways to involve the private sector in marketing and managing BWI," the governor said.
Earlier this year, Mr. Schaefer rejected proposals to turn BWI over to a private operator. But he asked a special committee to draft plans for an authority similar to the one that operates National and Washington Dulles International airports, BWI's chief competitors. A report from that panel is due Nov. 1.
Mr. Schaefer said he will ask the Maryland General Assembly to approve legislation establishing an airport authority when it convenes in January.
"Eventually the airport will have the discretion to raise its own money through bonding and to make improvements necessary to become competitive," said Robert R. Linowes, a Silver Spring attorney who was named to the commission yesterday. An independent authority currently operates the state highways and bridges, deriving its operating money largely from tolls. Last year, BWI generated some $53 million in revenues, earning an operating profit of more than $21 million.
That figure, however, does not include debt service payments on the airport's extensive capital improvement projects. All told, the state has spent about $170 million more than BWI has generated from operations since it purchased the old Friendship Airport from the city of Baltimore in 1972.
Secretary of Transportation O. James Lighthizer was named chairman of the BWI advisory group yesterday. In addition to Mr. Linowes, the other members are: J. Owen Cole, chairman of the executive committee of First Maryland Bankcorp; Dan A. Colussy, chairman of UNC Inc.; Donald P. Hutchinson, president of the Maryland Business Council and recently named to head the Greater Baltimore Committee; Edward J. Kremer, president of Hanna, Kremer, Tilghman Insurance Inc.; Alan Noia, president of Potomac Edison Co.; Martha Roach, former director of the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund and now president of Agency Insurance; and attorney George L. Russell, of Piper and Marbury.