Today Marks DFW International Airport’s 40th Anniversary | KERA News

Today Marks DFW International Airport’s 40th Anniversary

Jan 13, 2014

Forty years ago today, DFW International Airport opened.

At first, DFW had three runways, three terminals and just 66 gates. How things have changed: Today, DFW is the world's eighth-busiest airport and has fueled North Texas’ growth.

The airport is marking its anniversary by designating an arriving American Airlines flight from Little Rock this afternoon as the 40th anniversary flight. DFW greeted the flight with a “shower of affection” water cannon salute. Passengers received yellow Texas roses, commemorating the greeting that DFW's first arriving customers received.

Both The Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram produced special coverage of the anniversary.

The Dallas Morning News explored the airport’s beginnings in a special section in Sunday’s newspaper:

“In the years since the shotgun wedding, the airport has turned into an ‘aerotropolis,’ a catalyst for dynamic economic growth for North Texas. For sure, Fort Worth and Dallas had different dreams about the airport of the future. Love Field was the choice of Dallas, while Fort Worth favored Greater Southwest International (a.k.a. Amon Carter Field). The rivalry was fierce. Fort Worth, seeking compromise, changed the name of its airport to Dallas-Fort Worth Field. Dallas Mayor Earle Cabell, who preceded Jonsson, replied: ‘It’s unethical to use the name of Dallas on any shanty in Fort Worth.’”

The Star-Telegram reports:

[The airport] is entering middle age with a $2.3 billion face-lift on its original terminals and more flights to exotic international destinations like Shanghai and Abu Dhabi.

It’s also home to the world’s largest airline now that American Airlines and US Airways have merged. … After 9-11, the entire industry struggled with higher operating costs and lower travel demand. In 2005, Delta abandoned its hub at DFW, dropping from 268 daily flights to 20.

DFW has recovered from the economic slump, crossing back over the 60-million-passengers-a-year mark in 2013 and adding several domestic carriers, including JetBlue Airways, Spirit Airlines and Virgin America, along with international airlines such as Emirates and Qantas Airways.

“DFW Airport is the biggest economic engine in the region,” Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said. “It’s not just the airport but it’s the spinoff businesses that supply the airport for this region and the people they bring in for business purposes, for tourism and for conventions. It’s a major driver for us.”

DFW Airport marked the occasion on Twitter today: