John E. “Jack” Potter, the former head of the U.S. Postal Service, was formally selected Wednesday to lead two of the Washington area’s busiest airports and the multi-billion dollar project to extend Metrorail to Dulles International and Loudoun County.

The board of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, as expected, voted 11 to 2 to endorse Potter as its new chief executive and president. Former congressman Tom Davis, the board’s vice chairman, called Potter a “first-class professional and outstanding leader” and said he would “bring a lot of credibility to this organization.”

Potter, who will be paid a salary of $350,000 plus a signing bonus, takes over at a difficult time for the airports authority. The self-supporting entity has been criticized for its management of the Metro project and its initial search for a new leader.

The two board members who voted against Potter - Shirley Robinson Hall of the District and Richard “Dickie” Carter of Maryland - said they had favored other candidates with airport management experience.

In a briefing with reporters after the vote, Potter said he is a “quick study” and that his experience at the Postal Service overseeing more than $2 billion in air shipping made him “very familiar” with the airline industry. He called the airports and the Metro project an “extremely important part of the region’s economic engine...We can and will help grow the economy here.”