Biden nominates Denver airport CEO Phil Washington to lead FAA
President Biden on Wednesday nominated Denver International Airport CEO Phil Washington to lead the Federal Aviation Administration.
Why it matters: The incoming FAA chief faces a huge challenge because the nation's air travel system is currently crippled.
- Travelers are returning to the skies at pre-pandemic numbers this summer but airports and airlines are struggling with staffing shortages.
- The federal agency sits in the crosshairs, as airline executives blame delayed flights on a shortage of air traffic controllers.
Details: Washington has served as Denver's airport chief for only a year, after Denver Mayor Michael Hancock tapped him in June 2021, following former CEO Kim Day's retirement after 13 years.
- He previously led the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and earlier the Regional Transportation District in Denver.
- He served 25 years in the U.S. Army and carries two decades of experience in infrastructure building.
Of note: Washington faced weeks of questions and scrutiny after Axios Denver first reported that he was named in a criminal search warrant and connected to public corruption allegations — which the city initially denied.
- But the Denver City Council ultimately approved his nomination to lead Denver's airport, which is the third-busiest in the world.
- Washington's salary stands at nearly $350,000 after a 30% pay bump approved in April.
What to watch: Earlier this year, Denver approved Washington's vision to spend another $1.1 billion to complete a massive overhaul of the airport's Great Hall, doubling the project's construction cost and pushing back completion dates by four years.
- Should Washington get approved, his successor will inherit a massive project that could shape their legacy.