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History

Planning

As early as 1927, before the area had an airport, Dallas proposed a joint airport with Fort Worth. Fort Worth declined the offer and thus each city opened its own airport, Love Field and Meacham Field, each of which had scheduled airline service.

In 1940 the Civil Aeronautics Administration earmarked US$1,900,000 (equivalent to $34,700,000 in 2019) for the construction of a Dallas/Fort Worth Regional Airport. American Airlines and Braniff Airways struck a deal with the city of Arlington to build an airport there, but the governments of Dallas and Fort Worth disagreed over its construction and the project was abandoned in 1942. After World War II, Fort Worth annexed the site and developed it into Amon Carter Field[12] with the help of American Airlines. In 1953 Fort Worth transferred its commercial flights from Meacham Field to the new airport, which was 12 miles (19 km) from Dallas Love Field. In 1960 Fort Worth purchased Amon Carter Field and renamed it Greater Southwest International Airport GSW in an attempt to compete with Dallas' airport, but GSW's traffic continued to decline relative to Dallas Love Field. By the mid-1960s Fort Worth was getting 1% of Texas air traffic while Dallas was getting 49%, which led to the virtual abandonment of GSW.

The joint airport proposal was revisited in 1961 after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) refused to invest more money in separate Dallas and Fort Worth airports. Although the Fort Worth airport was eventually abandoned, Dallas Love Field became congested and had no more room to expand. Following an order from the federal government in 1964 that it would unilaterally choose a site if the cities could not come to an agreement, officials from the two cities finally agreed on a location for a new regional airport that was north of the abandoned GSW and almost equidistant from the two city centers. The land was purchased by the cities in 1966 and construction began in 1969.

Voters went to the polls in cities throughout the Dallas/Ft Worth area to approve the new North Texas Regional Airport, which was named after the North Texas Commission that was instrumental in the regional airport coming to fruition. The North Texas Commission formed the North Texas Airport Commission to oversee the planning and construction of the giant airport. Area voters approved the airport referendum and the new North Texas Regional Airport would become a reality.[13]

Under the original 1967 airport design, DFW was to have pier-shaped terminals perpendicular to a central highway. In 1968, the design was revised to provide for semicircular terminals, which served to isolate loading and unloading areas from the central highway, and to provide additional room for parking in the middle of each semicircle.[14] The plan proposed thirteen such terminals, but only four were built initially.[15][16]

Opening and operations

DFW held an open house and dedication ceremony on September 20–23, 1973, which included the first landing of a supersonic Concorde in the United States, an Air France aircraf

In 1940 the Civil Aeronautics Administration earmarked US$1,900,000 (equivalent to $34,700,000 in 2019) for the construction of a Dallas/Fort Worth Regional Airport. American Airlines and Braniff Airways struck a deal with the city of Arlington to build an airport there, but the governments of Dallas and Fort Worth disagreed over its construction and the project was abandoned in 1942. After World War II, Fort Worth annexed the site and developed it into Amon Carter Field[12] with the help of American Airlines. In 1953 Fort Worth transferred its commercial flights from Meacham Field to the new airport, which was 12 miles (19 km) from Dallas Love Field. In 1960 Fort Worth purchased Amon Carter Field and renamed it Greater Southwest International Airport GSW in an attempt to compete with Dallas' airport, but GSW's traffic continued to decline relative to Dallas Love Field. By the mid-1960s Fort Worth was getting 1% of Texas air traffic while Dallas was getting 49%, which led to the virtual abandonment of GSW.

The joint airport proposal was revisited in 1961 after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) refused to invest more money in separate Dallas and Fort Worth airports. Although the Fort Worth airport was eventually abandoned, Dallas Love Field became congested and had no more room to expand. Following an order from the federal government in 1964 that it would unilaterally choose a site if the cities could not come to an agreement, officials from the two cities finally agreed on a location for a new regional airport that was north of the abandoned GSW and almost equidistant from the two city centers. The land was purchased by the cities in 1966 and construction began in 1969.

Voters went to the polls in cities throughout the Dallas/Ft Worth area to approve the new North Texas Regional Airport, which was named after the North Texas Commission that was instrumental in the regional airport coming to fruition. The North Texas Commission formed the North Texas Airport Commission to oversee the planning and construction of the giant airport. Area voters approved the airport referendum and the new North Texas Regional Airport would become a reality.[13]

Under the original 1967 airport design, DFW was to have pier-shaped terminals perpendicular to a central highway. In 1968, the design was revised to provide for semicircular terminals, which served to isolate loading and unloading areas from the central highway, and to provide additional room for parking in the middle of each semicircle.[14] The plan proposed thirteen such terminals, but only four were built initially.[15][16]

DFW held an open house and dedication ceremony on September 20–23, 1973, which included the first landing of a supersonic Concorde in the United States, an Air France aircraft en route from Caracas to Paris.[14] The attendees at the airport's dedication included former Texas Governor John Connally, Transportation Secretary Claude Brinegar, U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen and Texas Governor Dolph Briscoe.[17] The airport opened for commercial service as Dallas/Fort Worth Regional Airport on January 13, 1974, at a cost of $700 million. The first flight to land was American Airlines Flight 341 from New York, which had stopped in Memphis and Little Rock.[18] The name change to Dallas/Fort Worth International did not occur until 1985.

When it opened, DFW had four terminals, numbered 2W, 2E, 3E and 4E.[15] During its first year of operations, the airport was served by American Airlines, [15] During its first year of operations, the airport was served by American Airlines, Braniff International Airways, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Eastern Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Ozark Air Lines, Rio Airways and Texas International Airlines.[19] The Wright Amendment of 1979 banned long distance flights into Love Field,[20] leaving Southwest Airlines as Love Field's only jet airline and operating solely as an intrastate air carrier in the state of Texas.[21]

Braniff International Airways was a major operator at DFW in the airport's early years, operating a hub from Terminal 2W with international flights to South America and Mexico from 1974, London from 1978 and Europe and Asia from 1979, before ceasing all operations in 1982.[22] During the Braniff hub era, DFW was one of only four U.S. airports to have scheduled Concorde service; Braniff commenced scheduled Concorde service from Dallas to Washington from 1979 to 1980, using British Airways and Air France aircraft temporarily re-registered to Braniff while flying within the United States. British Airways later briefly flew Concordes to Dallas in 1988 as a substitute for its ordinarily scheduled DC-10 service.[14]

Following airline deregulation, American Airlines (which had already been one of the largest carriers serving the Dallas/Fort Worth area for many years) established its first hub at DFW on June 11, 1981.[23] American finished moving its headquarters from Grand Prairie, Texas, to a building in Fort Worth located on the site of the old Greater Southwest International Airport, near DFW Airport on January 17, 1983; the airline began leasing the facility from the airport, which owns the facility.[24] By 1984, the American hub occupied most of Terminal 3E and part of Terminal 2E.[25] American's hub grew to fill all of Terminal 2E by 1991.[26] American also began long-haul international service from DFW, adding flights to London in 1982 and Tokyo in 1987.[27]

Delta Air Lines also built up a hub operation at DFW, which occupied most of Terminal 4E through the 1990s.[25][26] The Delta hub peaked around 1991, when Delta had a 35% market share at DFW; its share was halved by 2004, after many of its mainline routes were downgraded to more frequent regional jet service in 2003.[28] Delta closed its DFW hub in 2004 in a restructuring of the airline to avoid bankruptcy, cutting its DFW operation to only 21 flights a day from over 250 and redeploying aircraft to hubs in Cincinnati, Atlanta and Salt Lake City. Prior to the closure, Delta had a 17.3% market share at DFW.[29] After the closing of Delta's hub, DFW offered incentives to Southwest Airlines to relocate its service to DFW from Love Field, but Southwest, as in the past, chose to stay at Love Field.

In 1989 the airport authority announced plans to rebuild the existing terminals and add two runways. After an environmental impact study was released the following year, the cities of Irving, Euless and Grapevine sued the airport over its extension plans, a battle that was finally decided (in favor of the airport) by the US Supreme Court in 1994. The seventh runway opened in 1996. The four primary north–south runways (those closest to the terminals) were all lengthened from 11,388 feet (3,471 m) to their present length of 13,400 feet (4,084 m). The first, 17R/35L, was extended in 1996 (at the same time the new runway was constructed) and the other three (17C/35C, 18L/36R and 18R/36L) were extended in 2005. DFW is now the only airport in the world with 4 serviceable paved runways longer than 4,000 metres (13,123 ft).

Terminal D, built for international flights, and DFW Skylink, a modern bidirectional people mover system, opened in 2005.[30][31]

From 2004 to 2012, DFW was one of two US Army "Personnel Assistance Points" which received US troops returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for rest and recuperation. This ended on March 14, 2012, leaving Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport as the sole Personnel Assistanc

Terminal D, built for international flights, and DFW Skylink, a modern bidirectional people mover system, opened in 2005.[30][31]

From 2004 to 2012, DFW was one of two US Army "Personnel Assistance Points" which received US troops returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for rest and recuperation. This ended on March 14, 2012, leaving Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport as the sole Personnel Assistance Point.[32]

Airports Council International (ACI) named DFW Airport the best large airport with more than 40 million passengers in North America for passenger satisfaction in 2016.[33]

In June 2018, DFW Airport opened a fully functioning emergency room on airport grounds, located in Southgate Plaze near the Airport Headquarters and Rental Car Center. With this opening, the facility became the first actual ER on an airport's property anywhere around the globe.[34]

On May 20, 2019, DFW airport, along with American Airlines, announced plans to build a 6th terminal. The proposed project is estimated to cost $3–3.5 billion and was expected to finish as soon as 2025.[35] Along with the addition of up to 24 new gates to Terminal F, renovations of Terminal C are planned to take place, as it is the last terminal which has not been updated in recent years.[36] The goal of the new terminal is to "provide the region with the growth it needs to compete with international business centers," according to CEO of DFW Airport, Sean Donohue.[35] However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the timing of the project is currently in flux.[37]

Terminals and facilities