Texas. Its history is a long and complicated one, having been a part of Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America, and finally, the United States of America. In 1845, Texas became the 28th state to enter the union, and 172 years later it stands as the second most populous state and plays home to 54 Fortune 500 companies. Every year, more than 100 million passengers fly into and out of dozens of the state’s airports. But today, three of its busiest – Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) – continue to vie for the title of Best in Texas.
In the second part of the series, we will be discussing Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and why one writer believes it is the best airport in Texas. Be sure to check out the first part of our series discussing George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH).
In 1927, the city of Dallas offered the city of Fort Worth the opportunity to build an airport halfway between the two cities that could be operated together. Fort Worth declined. So the two cities continued down their separate paths, Dallas continuing to promote Love Field and Fort Worth doing the same with Meacham Field.
Proposals continued to fall through, and World War II put a halt to any discussions. The cities continued to stonewall each other, but a 1964 order from the federal government forced the two to work together to find a site for a new airport. Construction officially began for the new airport in 1969.
Though the original design called for 13 terminals, only four were built by the airport’s dedication in 1973, which was capped off by the landing of a Concorde aircraft on its way from Caracas, Venezuela to Paris. On January 13, 1974, Dallas/Fort Worth Regional Airport opened for commercial service, almost immediately becoming a hub for the large Braniff International Airways.
For the next decade, the airport continued to grow as American Airlines turned the airport into a hub of their own, operating both transatlantic and transpacific flights by the end of the 1980s. In 1985, however, the airport received a name change, earning its title of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
Since then, the airport has seen airlines go out of business, Delta establish a hub then pull back out, and the many other upturns and downturns of the last three decades in the airline industry. The airport has undergone numerous expansion projects to reach its current total of seven runways and five terminals. Today, DFW holds the rank of third busiest airport in the U.S. and 11th in the world.
The Good and the Bad at DFW
Soon after its construction, DFW gained a key advantage over Dallas Love Field. Love Field and any airline based there was to be limited in possible destinations by the Wright Amendment, while each airline that moved to DFW would be free to operate pending they could gain a slot and all the other necessities.
The airport, consequentially, saw booming growth and a route network that would expand to cover five continents and dozens of countries. Now, passengers have the chance to fly directly to 226 destinations on board nearly 30 airlines.
Additionally, DFW provides a middle ground for both airlines and passengers. The airport was built to provide a hub that passengers traveling to and from both Dallas and Fort Worth could enjoy equally. As a result, airlines no longer have to operate flights to two different airports to tap into two customer bases.
The airport, however, has not come without its fair share of controversy. As the airport began to plan its expansion, the resulting environmental impact study led three cities to sue the airport to stop the attempted growth. The multi-year debacle culminated with a U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of the airport that allowed for the construction of the sixth and seventh runways.
In the last few years, DFW Airport CEO Sean Donohue has discussed the construction of a new terminal, likely to be called Terminal F. This new terminal would sit just south of Terminal D where the SkyLink currently takes a detour in order to accommodate the theoretical building.
Such a terminal would likely allow either for American to vacate other gates it currently occupies at the airport or for other airlines to take over the gates as American continues to hold the entirety of three terminals as well as portions of two others.
Donohue also said the airport intends to serve 70 million passengers annually by 2020, allowing DFW to firmly cement its place as the biggest, and maybe the best, in Texas.