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DFW Airport plans to spend $400 million on infrastructure projects

One of three air traffic control towers at DFW International Airport. Airport officials plan to spend up to $400 million on infrastructure improvements.
One of three air traffic control towers at DFW International Airport. Airport officials plan to spend up to $400 million on infrastructure improvements.

Dallas/Fort Worth Airport plans to spend $400 million on a new cellphone lot, a better baggage handling system at Terminal B and more employee parking over the next few years.

At its monthly board meeting, airport staff said that its airline partners have agreed to several infrastructure projects that are in addition to the ongoing terminal renovations. These projects include curbside signage, passenger boarding bridges at Terminal B and E and rehabilitation of the airfields.

“We’re really working closely with the airlines on this work,” said airport CEO Sean Donohue. “A lot of it is in the design and planning phase so there will be significant investments ahead.”

The airport will issue new debt to cover the costs of the project and the debt will be paid for by the airlines’ terminal rent and landing fees.

The new cellphone lot will be located near the airport’s north gate plaza where friends and family who are arriving to pick up a passenger can wait until they get a call to pick someone up. Construction on the lot is scheduled to begin in August so it is completed in time for the holiday travel season.

The airport also plans to build a second end-around taxiway on the northeast section of the airfield to help ease congestion on the taxiways particularly during peak arrival and departure times during the day.

The approved projects are just the beginning of a decade-long infrastructure maintenance improvements program that the airport anticipates will cost billions, said Khaled Naja, DFW’s executive vice president of infrastructure and development.

“DFW has a significant infrastructure system to maintain,” Naja told the board. “Further improvements are needed to replace aging systems such as roofing and utilities and infrastructure in general.”

For example, there are 360,000 linear feet of sewer lines and 760,000 linear feet of water lines in a system built more than 43 years ago. The airport also has more than 1,288 lane-miles of roadways and 133 landside bridges that need to be maintained. Naja said one-third of the bridges along International Parkway have been recommended for replacement within the next decade.

Separately, the board also received a preview of the fiscal year 2018 budget that the airport staff is currently putting together. Chief financial officer Chris Poinsatte said the airport is anticipating budget expenses of $957.1 million for the fiscal year scheduled to start on Oct. 1. Of that, $483.8 million will be spent on debt service.

Unlike this fiscal year, when the airport staff assumed parking revenues would increase more than they actually did, Poinsatte said there are no assumptions for any parking rate increases.

Poinsatte said total passengers are expected to be up 1.3 percent to 67.3 million in the next fiscal year. The cost per enplaned passenger for airlines will rise 19.3 percent to $13.92 per passenger.

“We did brief the airlines on the budget,” Poinsatte said, adding that despite the rising costs for the airlines, “the general consensus is they understood it.”

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk