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DFW Airport has record 2016, gives CEO six-figure bonus

DFW Airport served a record 65.7 million passengers in its fiscal year 2016.
DFW Airport served a record 65.7 million passengers in its fiscal year 2016.

The Dallas/Fort Worth Airport board approved a six-figure bonus and retention package for its chief executive as the airport posted another record year in 2016.

In a presentation to the board on Thursday, airport chief executive Sean Donohue said the airport served a record 65.7 million passengers in its fiscal year 2016 which ended on September 30. The airport also set a record of $137 million net revenues and shared $54 million of that back with the airlines by reducing landing fees and terminal rents.

“In terms of growing the core business, we had a stable year,” Donohue said, although he noted the airport’s international growth slowed to about two percent.

Airlines operated a record 10 million international seats out of DFW as new flights to Tokyo and Quito launched in the last fiscal year. Cargo loads also increased 8.5 percent for the year with the addition of Qatar Airways, Qantas Airways and Air Canada cargo operations. The airport also opened 55 new concessions locations in 2016 as part of the airport’s $3 billion terminal renovation program.

The board approved a 3 percent raise for Donohue, bringing his annual salary to $480,800. He will also receive a $129,535.89 bonus, equivalent to 27.75 percent of his 2016 salary, for achieving seven out of ten “key performance indicators” that the board set for the airport’s executive team last year.

And to entice Donohue to stay at DFW throughout its new four-year strategic plan, the board approved a $600,000 retention package. The airport will contribute $150,000 in each of the next four years, starting in January, to a tax-deferred account. He will receive the full amount if he remains employed at DFW until Jan. 1, 2021. If Donohue leaves or is terminated for cause, he will forfeit the entire lump sum payment.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said since the goal is to transform DFW Airport into a global superhub, Donohue’s compensation should be compared to other international airport executives.

“You have to benchmark your CEO not just against other U.S. airports but against the type of people that the airlines hire and that other international airports have worldwide and to keep Sean, we feel like he’s worth it,” Price said. “He’s done incredible work and I think it’s a valid increase for him.”

The top executives at Los Angeles and Chicago O’Hare airport earn around $300,000 in annual salary. However, the chief executives at London Heathrow and Frankfurt airports earn over $1 million while Kerrie Mather, the executive in charge of Sydney’s airport earned over $2.6 million in direct compensation, according to DFW Airport’s survey of executive compensation in the industry.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk