DFW Airport, American Airlines reach deal to build a sixth terminal

DFW Airport and American Airlines have reached a tentative deal to build a sixth passenger terminal, as part of a capital improvements package that could reach $3.5 billion.

“Terminal F is another sign of how quickly our region is growing,” Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said.

The plans were announced Monday during a DFW State of the Airport presentation at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Terminal C. Terminal F will eventually have up to 24 gates, and is tentatively scheduled to open by 2025, DFW Airport chief executive officer Sean Donohue said.

The expansion, which still must be approved by the boards of DFW Airport and American Airlines, is needed to meet future growth, DFW board chairman William “Bill” Meadows of Fort Worth said.

Previously, airport officials have said Terminal F likely won’t be the same horseshoe shape of the other five terminals, and likely won’t include a parking garage because of travelers’ changing needs.

On Monday, officials from the airport and its dominant airline said it was too soon to talk about specific design elements of the project, including parking issues.

Large capital projects are typically financed by government bonds, and repaid with fees paid by airlines who use the facilities. American Airlines handles about four of every five flights at DFW, which is its global headquarters and largest hub.

The capital package also will include renovation of Terminal C, which is DFW’s busiest terminal — and the only terminal that hasn’t been renovated in the past two decades. Up to $1 billion of the $3.5 billion estimate could be used for Terminal C, Donohue said.

Meadows said the airport’s recent completion of $2 billion in improvements to Terminals A, B and E helped “successfully position DFW as the prime gateway between Asia and Latin America,” but that more expansion was needed to meet future needs.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price (left), DFW Airport board chairman William Meadows and vice chair Matrice Ellis-Kirk chat Monday before the DFW State of the Airport presentation. Gordon Dickson

The airport handled 69 million passengers last year, but that number could hit 100 million passengers by 2023, said Matrice Ellis-Kirk, DFW board vice chair.

Doug Parker, American Airlines chairman and chief executive officer, said it’s too early to talk specifics about what Terminal F might look like, or whether it will be used exclusively by American or shared by other airlines.

But he did say American is committed long-term to expanding its presence at DFW.

Terminal F will be capable of serving international and domestic flights, much like Terminal D, Donohue said.

The construction of Terminal F also will provide DFW with an opportunity to design a more efficient baggage movement system, he said.

Gordon Dickson joined the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1997. He is passionate about hard news reporting, and his beats include transportation, growth, urban planning, aviation, real estate, jobs, business trends. He is originally from El Paso, and loves food, soccer and long drives.