By Matthew Bado
Jeff Fegan, CEO of DFW International Airport, told a McKinney Chamber audience that DFW, unlike many other hubs in the nation, is uniquely positioned to expand in decades ahead, serving as a economic driver for North Texas that connects people and cargo from all over the world.
Fegan first touted his 2011 successes at the annual Chamber business meeting, saying that a record number of new carriers and destinations were added, bringing the total to 147 domestic cities. Nine new international destinations were added, including Dubai and Brisbane.
“Last year was probably the best year we’ve had at the airport,” said Fegan, “Emirates is investing $500 million to serve DFW; in the years ahead, customers can expect to see more of the Airbus 380.”
Looking ahead, Fegan referenced the airport’s Terminal Renewal Improvement Program (TRIP), which entails reconstructing the airport’s terminals for the 21st century. The focus is on Terminal A, where passengers won’t find ticket counters or baggage handlers when it opens. It will be all be self-service, said Fegan. A new security check-point will quickly, yet safely, move passengers through to the gates and a “concession village.” The Terminal A garage will be replaced with an 8,000 spot, high tech garage that will tell you exactly where the empty parking spots are located.
Speaking of technology, Fegan shared that PC Magazine ranked DFW the number one airport for technology, which means the airport has the most accessible outlets in its waiting areas.
If all goes well, DART rail will stop at DFW in 2014. In 2016, the construction of all new access roads reaching every terminal will be complete.
Fegan is optimistic about the airport’s future growth well beyond this decade.
“I would expect DFW to experience 30-40 more years of growth,” said Fegan. “Unlike other major hubs, we have room for airlines to increase capacity.”
Fegan indicated that expanding international destinations is a priority. He said that an average Chinese tourist will spend $5200 on a trip to the United States.
Fegan predicts that regional jets (planes with 50-70 seats) will disappear in years ahead, and very few, if any, new players will enter the market. The industry requires a significant amount of capital and it’s very competitive.
Fegan said that the airport’s success can be attributed to its diverse employee talent. Interestingly, he said very few of his key leaders actually worked in an airport before joining team DFW.
Did you know DFW carried approximately 57 million passengers in 2011?