DFW Airport has record year for passengers

Almost 63 million passengers traveled through Dallas/Fort Worth Airport in the past 12 months, the most in the airport’s 40-year history.

Growth in international passengers from new flights to destinations including Doha, Qatar; Hong Kong; and Shanghai helped push up traffic after bad weather in the winter. For the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 62.9 million passengers traveled through the airport, breaking the record of 61.1 million in fiscal 2000.

DFW spent $649.8 million, 1.7 percent less than it had budgeted for fiscal 2014. It also returned $28.6 million to its airline tenants through landing fee and terminal rent reductions, 30 percent more than the airport returned in the previous fiscal year.

Now the airport is preparing for the crowded holiday travel season and winter weather that could strand thousands of passengers at DFW.

In a briefing to the airport board’s operations committee Tuesday, staff members said DFW has spent an additional $7 million on snow and ice removal equipment this year to prepare for the winter. Planning manager Lisa Hughes said the goal is to improve runway clearing times by 50 percent.

Last year, DFW experienced eight winter-weather events, including a December storm that dropped 1.25 inches of ice on the airport’s runways and roads. As a result, the airport exceeded its weather budget in 2013-14 by $2.67 million.

“In the December event, we were seeing 45 minutes to an hour for a single runway, just to get the runway passable for aircraft,” Hughes said.

Airport staffers said the new equipment will allow them to pre-treat runways and roads better, keeping ice and snow from bonding with the pavement and making it easier to clear off the surface.

“The whole concept is don’t let this stuff bond. Scrape it off and keep it in a fluid state so when the sun comes out, it can evaporate,” said Jim Crites, executive vice president of operations

DFW has also improved its communications plan about concessions and other amenities available for passengers stuck in the terminal during a winter storm.

Separately, the airport finance committee approved a three-year air service incentive program to provide marketing funds and free landing fees to airlines that add new flights.

The program, through 2017, will also provide incentive dollars to airlines that change an existing route to a larger aircraft that results in a 30 percent net increase in seats in a market that is at least 5,000 miles from DFW.