MWAA board member expenses pricey air ticket, brings female friend along

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Local,Virginia,Transportation,Liz Essley

Airports board member Dennis Martire billed the airports authority for more expensive plane tickets in order to allow a female companion to accompany him on a "two-for-one" deal for tickets, according to sources and documents reviewed by The Washington Examiner.

The news comes even as the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority will vote on a new travel policy for its Board of Directors on Wednesday -- a move prompted by reports of lavish spending on travels to places such as Hawaii, Sardinia, Ethiopia, Prague, Rio de Janeiro, Tel Aviv, Israel, and Brussels.

A federal inspector general earlier this year blasted the airports board for the expensive travel costs -- including a $9,200 plane ticket to Prague by Martire, purchased 10 days prior to the conference he was attending on behalf of the authority.

But close inspection of authority records shows Martire's business-class flight included a "two-for-one" restriction.

A similar business-class flight for a trip 10 days away on the same airline now costs $5,495.

Martire was also "encouraged" to fly coach, according to the airports board policy, which also reads: "The Directors will make every effort to secure the most economic and cost effective means of travel."

Martire's receipts show that on two other flights -- to conferences in Sardinia and Brussels --he paid for flights costing $9,500 and $6,260, respectively, using a corporate American Express platinum credit card.

Benefits of the card include a free companion ticket on qualifying business flights. Martire's receipts show that a female companion went with him on both flights, but he paid only taxes and fees for the companion's flight.

The airports authority did not reimburse him for those fees but paid for the full cost of the flight.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell attempted to remove Martire from the board earlier this year, citing his lavish travel and potential conflict of interest as a union executive, but Martire is fighting the ouster in court. The airports authority has agreed to pay at least part of his legal bills -- another matter for debate at the authority's meeting.

Martire did not return calls seeking comment.

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

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Liz Essley

Staff Writer - Transportation
The Washington Examiner