The end of the Wright Amendment at Dallas Love Field brought a slowdown in passenger growth at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport in November, but board members are optimistic that the region’s big airport will continue to expand.
At its board meeting Thursday, DFW Airport reported passenger growth of only 1.6 percent for November, the first full month after the flight restrictions expired. The airport had passenger traffic growth of 4.4 percent in fiscal 2014, which ended Sept. 30, and the November passenger growth matched the lowest monthly rate last year.
The Wright Amendment expired Oct. 13, allowing long-haul domestic flights from Love Field. For November, Love Field reported a 43 percent increase in passengers as flight operations grew 37 percent. Southwest Airlines, Love Field’s largest airline, added dozens of flights at the airport and now has 153 daily flights to 33 destinations.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said that the gains at Love Field have been tremendous but that he is pleased to see DFW still growing.
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“To be able to maintain growth says a huge bit about DFW but also talks about the marketplace as a whole being able to absorb everything. It’s like one plus one equals three,” Rawlings said.
In November, DFW served 4,764,386 passengers while Love Field served 985,678.
Passengers flying on low-cost carriers declined at DFW by 5.8 percent, mainly because Virgin America moved its operations to Love Field.
The total passenger count at DFW was up slightly in November, and the number of international passengers grew by 8.9 percent.
“It shows the international growth at DFW continues to be absolutely critical,” airport Chief Executive Sean Donohue said at the meeting. “For the region to absorb all of that incredible growth and to have both airports growing is an incredible sign.”
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said she is pleased that the lifting of the Wright Amendment hasn’t had a significant negative impact on DFW.
“I think we can [add more domestic routes]. I think we’ll just have to work harder on that. We’ve had a strong focus on international, and that’s where the airlines make a lot of money,” Price said. “International business is where this region is headed right now.”
International passenger traffic is expected to grow significantly as Etihad Airways added nonstop flights to Abu Dhabi three times a week in December, with plans to begin daily service in April.
And American Airlines, DFW’s largest carrier, plans to add service to Beijing in May.
Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631