For immediate release
November 19, 2015
Comptroller Franchot and Treasurer Kopp Question Lack of Competitive Contracting at BWI Airport
Annapolis — Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot and State Treasurer Nancy Kopp yesterday during a meeting of the Board of Public Works called on the Maryland Aviation Administration (MAA) to issue a competitive Request for Proposal (RFP) for the food and retail concessions program at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport in 2017. The MAA has the opportunity to put the BWI Thurgood Marshall concessions contract out to bid in 2017, or it can keep the current operator, German owned Airmall, for another five years, until 2022, with no competitive bidding process.
“Given the administration’s admirable commitment to saving taxpayer money … Why wouldn’t you ask the MAA to take the opportunity in 2017 to test drive the marketplace to see what else is out there,” asked Franchot. “Doesn’t seem to me to do any harm, and potentially gets quite a benefit, from initiating bid competition in 2017 just to simply get us the assurance that we’re still getting the best possible deal in the marketplace. We’ve been locked in to this relationship obviously for 12 years and 3 administrations.”
The Board of Public Works oversees all state procurement and contracting. The Board is comprised of the Comptroller, Treasurer, and Governor Larry Hogan. The majority of the Board now believes that the BWI airport concessions contract should be rebid to increase revenue to the State and improve the passenger experience.
The current contract between the MAA and Airmall ends in 2022. There is, however, an opportunity for the State to end the contract as early as 2017. Several large airport concession management companies expressed interest in operating the BWI program by responding to a Request for Information (RFI) last year. The RFI had been issued under the O’Malley administration. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn had come before the Board of Public Works for permission to go forward with 17 contracts with vendors past the expiration date of Airmall’s contract. This request to extend contracts with vendors as much as three years beyond the expiration of Airmall’s contract prompted the comments from Comptroller Franchot and Treasurer Kopp.
“Expanding the horizon is always a good idea,” said Kopp. “If we continue going down this route, especially if you all don’t decide to take the option to see what else is out there and just continue the way we’re going, I think there is a secondary high threshold of credibility for [leases] that go beyond 2025.”
Other major airports have seen significant increases in capital investment through the issuance of competitive RFPs. In 2014, at Detroit Metropolitan Airport’s McNamara Terminal, four concessions operators committed to $31.2 million in capital investment over an average lease term of 13.5 years. Six of Airmall’s industry competitors responded to a Request for Information early last year, submitting ideas and proposals on how to improve BWI’s concessions program and increase revenue to the State.
“Comptroller Franchot and Treasurer Kopp should be commended for their leadership on this issue and for calling on the State to make sure BWI airport is not leaving money on the table,” said Roxie Herbekian, President of UNITE HERE Local 7, which represents airport concessions workers at BWI.