The authority that oversees the Washington region’s two main airports and the multi-billion dollar project to extend Metrorail to Dulles International put off a decision Wednesday morning to name a new chief executive.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority has been bitterly divided over the leading candidate to be its next leader, Nathaniel P. Ford, chief of San Francisco’s transit authority.

In advance of Wednesday’s board meeting and planned vote, the member leading the search for a chief executive resigned and three new members were named to join the 13-member regional panel.

After meeting behind closed doors for more than an hour, board chairman Charles D. Snelling said the board had decided to postpone a decision to allow the new board members “to participate in the process.”

Ford had split the board in a debate that has included allegations by at least one board member that those opposed to the African American man are racist.

One of the members replaced this week has attended only one meeting in recent months and is stuck in the Ivory Coast.

The board is also scheduled to make a recommendation today on where to place the Metro station at the airport: Above or below ground.