Alternatives to Current Management and Ownership of Washington National and Dulles International Airports

Published: May 18, 1982. Publicly Released: May 18, 1982.

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GAO presented a number of alternatives to the current management and ownership of Washington National and Dulles International Airports. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) maintains and operates Washington National Airport and Dulles International Airport, the only two commercial airports owned by the Federal Government. These two airports are the exceptions to airport management nationwide where local, rather than Federal, ownership is the norm.

There have been numerous reasons for recommending a change in ownership or management including: (1) reducing fragmented airport management, (2) increasing community involvement in airport decisions, (3) eliminating the FAA role conflict as regulator of the air transportation system and operator of National and Dulles Airports, (4) promoting economy and efficiency through a business structure, (5) divesting the Government of a day-to-day operational responsibility that is not a necessary part of its basic mission, and (6) simplifying capital improvement financing at National Airport. GAO presented a number of ownership alternatives such as a Federal airport corporation or independent agency, state ownership, an airport authority, an independent airport operator, or private ownership. Because no single alternative is clearly superior, GAO did not express any preference. GAO concluded that a more extensive and critical study of both the current airport management and operations and of the implications of the various alternatives would be required before any decisions could be made.