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DFW Airport tweaking incentives to lure more international flights

International carriers, American, left, Qantas, center, and Lufthansa, right, on the south-side of Terminal D in DFW Airport. (Star-Telegram/Max Faulkner)
International carriers, American, left, Qantas, center, and Lufthansa, right, on the south-side of Terminal D in DFW Airport. (Star-Telegram/Max Faulkner) Star-Telegram

Nonstop flights to Rome, Auckland and Johannesburg are on Dallas/Fort Worth Airport’s wish list.

To convince airlines to launch flights from these cities, the airport is revamping an incentive program it uses to attract carriers.

“What we’re trying to do is get [airlines] to fly larger and larger airplanes into our airport — I’m talking international now — and generally longer and longer distances,” John Ackerman, the airport’s executive vice president of global strategy and development, told the airport board’s finance committee Tuesday.

Instead of offering airlines one- to two-year incentive plans with a flat-dollar amount, the airport wants to offer incentives based on the flight’s distance and type of aircraft used on the route. It also won’t offer an incentive to a new carrier that is adding service to a destination already served by another carrier, Ackerman said.

The new plan would offer $1.50 per available seat mile and a 25 percent bonus if the destination is on the airport’s target list. For example, if an airline launched a 5,195-mile flight to Barcelona with a 226-seat Boeing 787, the airline would receive $2.28 million in incentives, Ackerman said.

The airport wants more service to Europe, where it only currently has four nonstop flights. Dublin, Munich, Helsinki and Berlin are on the airport’s target list. as well as Nagoya, Melbourne, Addis Ababa and Nairobi in other parts of the globe.

Starting in 2009, DFW added several new international destinations including flights to Sydney, Hong Kong and Beijing. However, in the past year, the airport lost KLM’s seasonal service to Amsterdam and Airberlin chose not to launch a previously announced route from Dusseldorf.

“While we are on a pretty good roll, we have to be more aggressive than an L.A. or a New York,” chief executive Sean Donohue said at the meeting. “It helps us more on the margin than it would at some other airports.”

During the airport’s 2015 fiscal year, DFW spent $12.2 million on incentives. They typically include reduced landing fees and marketing costs for the new service. Ackerman said the new program would not cost the airport any more than the previous plan.

The full board will decide on Thursday whether to approve the proposed changes.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

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