For immediate release
February 18, 2016
ANNAPOLIS, MD — This afternoon, members of the Maryland Senate Finance Committee heard testimony on a bill, SB 409, which would require the Maryland Aviation Authority (MAA) to issue a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) for the food and retail concessions program at BWI Airport in 2017.
A recent study released by UNITE HERE shows that foregoing such a competitive bidding process at BWI could cost the state an estimated $37 million in capital investment at the airport. In 2014, six leading airport industry developers and concessionaires responded to a Request for Information that was issued by the State of Maryland, submitting ideas and proposals on how to improve BWI’s concessions program and increase revenue to the State.
MAA Executive Director Ricky Smith has opposed the legislation and said he has no plans for a competitive bidding process for the BWI Airport concessions contract in 2017. Smith, who was appointed by Governor Hogan last year, cited the growth in sales per enplanement under AIRMALL at BWI Airport. The airport, however, ranked 30th in sales per enplanement in North America in 2015. Smith argued that since 2004, the sales per passenger have increased by 77 percent, but nationally sales per enplaned passenger increased over 100% between 2001 and 2015.
Mr. Smith was COO of BWI when Airmall was first awarded the contract to manage the food and retail operations at BWI Airport in 2004. Less than two years into the contract, the MAA extended Airmall’s contract an additional five years, until 2022. In 2006, he became CEO of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. In 2008, Airmall began operating at the Cleveland Airport. Over the past five years, Mr. Smith reduced Airmall’s minimum annual rent payment obligations to the City of Cleveland by $3 million. The last contract awarded to Airmall was at Cleveland over six years ago. Airmall has responded to seven RFPs or Request for Qualifications (RFQ) since then.
Last week, 16 state legislators sent a letter to the MAA’s Executive Director, Ricky Smith, demanding the immediate release of public records related to the AIRMALL contract, including communications between MAA officials and AIRMALL.