06:27 AM

DFW Airport Predicting Christmas - New Year's Travel Up Eight Percent

Holiday Helpers Hit The Terminals Today; Special Santatracker Hotline Unveiled

DFW INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Texas (December 23, 2002) – Holiday Helpers handing out reindeer antlers, candy canes and popcorn hit DFW's four terminals at 5:30 a.m. today, as the Airport predicted a strong holiday travel week and the biggest travel period for 2002 to ring in the New Year.

DFW, which accurately predicted a robust 10 percent increase in Thanksgiving travel compared to 2001, believes travel in the latest holiday season will surpass national expectations and be up at least eight percent from the Christmas-New Year's travel period of last year. The Airport expects more than 3.1 million passengers at DFW from Friday, December 20 through Monday, January 6, compared to 2.8 million during the same period a year ago.

"We continue to be encouraged by the trends we're seeing during the holidays," says Joe Lopano, executive vice president of marketing at DFW Airport. "Last year, despite the aftermath of September 11 and the soft economy, the Christmas-New Year's travel period surpassed Thanksgiving, and we're seeing that same trend this year." DFW served more than 1.9 million passengers this Thanksgiving. Last year at Thanksgiving, the first holiday period following September 11, DFW handled 1.3 million passengers.

One very special guest and his traveling party of eight are also on the way. DFW is opening up a special SantaTracker Hotline at 972 586 NOEL (6635) so North Texas can follow Santa’s flight plan, landing and refueling at the Airport on Christmas Eve. The progress reports will begin at 12:00 p.m. on December 24, and continue until 11:00 p.m. that evening. More updates on Santa's Texas visit, including a special "SleighCAM" of Santa's simulated approach into DFW, are also available at www.dfwairport.com.

DFW has designated Runway 18L/36R on the airfield as Santa's “official runway.” A large supply of hay, oats and water will be available for refueling the reindeer. Special wax will also be on hand should Santa need work done on his sleigh, with DFW Maintenance ready to assist. DFW police will provide tight security and paramedics will be on hand in case Rudolph has a runny nose or Santa needs a quick check-up... or aspirin.

Of course, we will not know Santa's exact arrival time in North Texas, and we expect he will be here and gone in the blink of an eye," says Ken Capps, vice president of public affairs at DFW Airport. "Basically, Santa has at least 10 hours of darkness in most places, plus 24 hours due to the Earth's rotation, giving him 34 total hours to deliver his presents. He's also following the sun from east to west and zigzagging north to south to get the job done. DFW will be ready whenever he arrives here."

DFW will direct Santa's sleigh into the flight pattern and does not anticipate delays in air traffic operations as a result of his very brief Airport visit.

In preparation for tomorrow's special visit, Santa's helpers, DFW's Holiday Helpers and Airport Ambassadors, will be in the terminals all day today, assisting travelers, helping families traveling with small children, and providing a positive presence for all. One of Santa's helpers is greeting planes early this morning. And the Airport's nationally - recognized entertainment program will feature live bands and performers throughout the day.

Children will be treated to special reindeer antlers, as well as candy canes, crayons and coloring books. Adults will enjoy complimentary newspapers, and all will enjoy popcorn, cotton candy and soft drink samplings, courtesy of Pepsi. The Holiday Helpers program is in its second year, born during the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Compliments of AT&T, passengers can check or send emails from DFW Airport free of charge. AT&T is providing pre-paid Internet access cards to DFW Airport guests traveling this holiday season. These cards can be used on the AT&T PP2000-I Internet Phones located on the secure side in all terminals.

"We wish all our travelers a very safe and joyous holiday season with friends and family," says Jeff Fegan, CEO of DFW Airport. "Our employee volunteers truly enjoy seeing the smiles from our passengers and it's a very heartfelt way we can celebrate the holidays with our guests and help them get to their destination during a stressful time." 

DFW encourages travelers to check ahead for flight status, security updates and other useful information on its web site, www.dfwairport.com. The Airport is also supporting the Transportation Security Administration's new initiative, Prepare for Takeoff, by linking directly to the TSA web site from the front page of the DFW's site under "Holiday Resources." Under this section, travelers will also find the latest parking information, which details the Airport's new, convenient and affordable options in Express and Remote Parking.

Located halfway between the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, DFW International Airport is the world's third busiest, offering nearly 2,000 flights per day and serving 55 million passengers a year. DFW International Airport provides non-stop service to 130 domestic and 31 international destinations worldwide.

Editor's Notes: This release, and past news releases issued by DFW International Airport, are available online at www.dfwairport.com in the “MediaSite” section.

For the latest news, real-time flight information, parking availability or details regarding the many services provided at DFW International Airport, log on to www.dfwairport.com. To arrange interviews contact DFW Public Affairs at 972 574 NEWS (6397) or Ken Capps, APR, Vice President Public Affairs, kcapps@dfwairport.com.