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Already the 4th-largest U.S. airport, DFW expanding with new $3B terminal

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June 7 (UPI) — One of the busiest airports in the United States is adding a $3 billion terminal, which is expected to push new national and international routes through the busy hub and attract more airlines to fly there.

Terminal F at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport will be its sixth. Planners say it will add 24 new gates — capable of handling more than 200 flights a day. American Airlines, which has long been the airport’s largest tenant, has reached an agreement with the facility to finish the new terminal by 2025, officials said last month.

Fort Worth-based American — the world’s largest carrier by fleet size, miles flown and revenue — is also finishing its new world headquarters just south of the sprawling airport complex.

“DFW is American’s largest hub and a central gateway to our extensive international and domestic network,” American CEO Doug Parker said in a statement. “The plans … will allow for the continued growth of DFW and ensure the airport remains a premier gateway for American.”

American said it will add 23 destinations this year alone, and expects more after Terminal F opens. DFW Airport CEO Sean Donohue said the new terminal will include international gates.

“It’s definitely a significant victory for DFW,” Atmosphere Research Group founder Henry Harteveldt said.

The airport’s expansion may also be fortuitous for American’s rival to the east, Southwest — which now flies only out of Dallas’ Love Field. The placement is a holdover from the Wright Amendment legislation from the 1970s to help the then-new DFW Airport grow into the region’s dominant airport. For more than 30 years, it restricted nonstop flights from Love Field to adjoining states with only rare exceptions. That ended in 2014, opening the door for Southwest to finally fly nonstop to both coasts from Love.

The Wright Amendment still forces Southwest give up one gate at Love Field for every flight it operates at another airport within 80 miles, effectively keeping the airline from moving into DFW. It also bars international flights at Love Field. That changes in 2025 when the legislation expires.

“Competition is always good for the consumer — it leads to lower prices,” Harteveldt said.

DFW Airport is already the United States’ fourth-largest — and the world’s 15th-largest — by passenger traffic. Love Field ranks 31st nationally.

“No airport has ever been built that could accommodate the local customer better than DFW,” said William Meadows, chairman of the airport’s board of directors. “But I think we can find a way to accommodate the modern airlines, and still serve the local customer.”

Southwest declined to comment on its future plans.

Passengers may also see a few drawbacks when the new building opens. Preliminary plans for Terminal F show it won’t have a dedicated parking lot or entrance, meaning travelers will have to go through screening at other terminals and migrate to the new gates.

Planners say the idea is to fit more flights in a tighter space and have all the terminals stick out like fingers without having to build a parking lot, making it easier for connecting travelers to get from gate-to-gate.

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