03:31 AM

DFW International Airport Celebrates 30th Anniversary Of First Flight

30 Years Later- World's Third Busiest Airport Packs $14 Billion In Economic Impact For North Texas

DFW INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Texas (Jan. 14, 2004) — DFW International Airport celebrated its first 30 years of operation today, commemorating the facility's first flight and remembering its first week of operation in January 1974. Four DFW Department of Public Safety horseback riders waving Texas flags greeted an American Airlines 777 at Founder's Plaza today, with the aircraft's captain returning the greeting with the wave of a cowboy hat and a Lone Star flag from the cockpit. The brief ceremony, capped with a "shower of affection" from DFW firefighters on the airplane commemorates the first flight at DFW 30 years ago: American Airlines #341 from New York, with stops in Memphis and Little Rock.

"It was a flight that ignited the economic engine for North Texas, and began the ascension of DFW International Airport to the third busiest Airport in the world," said Max Wells, DFW Airport Board Chairman, who spoke to several hundred employees gathered for the ceremony. "I can honestly say our early dreamers dreamed big, but I don’t think even they could have envisioned what DFW has become in the short span of three decades." 

DFW's latest economic impact figures from the Texas Department of Transportation clearly shows DFW as the engine for the North Texas economy as well a global transportation hub, generating an economic output of $14.3 billion annually with a payroll of more than $6 billion. More than 268,000 full time jobs are linked directly to DFW.

"Much has changed at DFW since we opened 30 years ago - however, some things have not changed: DFW's commitment to the North Texas community, our commitment to growing the transportation industry for our region, and our commitment to running the best Airport in the world for all who use this facility," said Jeff Fegan, DFW CEO.

Thirty years ago, eight airlines opened DFW. Today, more than 30 airlines fly in and out of the Airport, including three original carriers -- American, Delta and Continental. DFW passengers enjoy more than 135 domestic destinations and service to more than 30 international cities. DFW is American Airlines' largest hub, with almost 700 daily departures from American and American Eagle. And with Delta's significant presence at DFW, the Airport is one of only four U.S. airports with two hub carriers.

"The great cities of Dallas and Fort Worth could not agree on much in the first half of the 20th century, and the feuding stories and tall tales of rivalry created a legendary gap between these two neighbors," said Kevin Cox, DFW COO. "Today, our Airport is a model for regional cooperation around the country, if not the world. What Dallas and Fort Worth accomplish together today and every day still has its origin here at DFW Airport." 

The Airport's opening 30 years ago was greeted with global enthusiasm from international leaders, the aviation community and Dallas and Fort Worth civic leaders and citizens, but the Texas-size facility took off to a bumpy start. One newspaper headlined the opening with "Near Chaos Marks Opening of Airport," detailing terminal doors that did not work, phones that were hard to use, and pay toilets that trapped patrons. However, first day accolades for DFW were also chronicled, including a quote from an airliner captain lauding the facility's 18,000 acres with, "this is indeed a pilot's airport."

That first week, DFW officials estimated the Airport would handle about 2,500 flight operations - just a little more than the 2,100 takeoffs and landings now at DFW on a daily basis. Post September 11, DFW has retained its ranking as the third busiest airport in the world. The Airport has also been the home to many important aviation "firsts" for the U.S. - the first airport to host the supersonic Concorde, the first airport to host a visit by a NASA Space Shuttle and the first facility with the ability to land four aircraft at the same time.

DFW's ceremonial riders included: David Wills, a DPS officer for 22 years; Michelle Collvins, a 10-year veteran assigned to the K-9 Division; and Sergeant Larry Naugle and Harry Clark of the Fire Rescue Division, both with double digit years of service to the Airport. AA's 777 pilot was Captain Zane Lemon, DFW Base Manager & Chief Pilot.

Located halfway between the cities of Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, DFW International Airport is the world’s third busiest, serving 54 million passengers a year. Offering nearly 2,000 flights daily, DFW Airport provides nonstop service to 135 domestic and 32 international destinations worldwide. For the latest news, real-time flight information, parking availability or further 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, Vice President Public Affairs, kcapps@dfwairport.com.


On average 166,300 passengers use DFW Airport daily that would fill up Yankee Stadium 3 times, Wrigley Field 4 times or Wimbledon 5 times.

From DFW a traveler can reach all major cities and 95% of the U.S. population within 4 hours or less.

The following airports combined can fit within the confines of DFW Airport, LAX, ORD, and MIA.

DFW has on average 1.6 flight operations per minute.


1927-A joint airport for Dallas & Fort Worth was first proposed. 1968-$35 million in revenue bonds are sold to finance the construction of the Airport. 1972-Runway construction begins. At the time, the paving contract was world’s largest-3 million yards of concrete. 1973-Willie Nelson & Doc Severinsen perform at the Airport dedication. 1973-The Airport dedication marks the first time the Supersonic Concorde lands in the U.S. (Thursday, September 20, 1973). 1973-200,000 people attend the Airport dedication ceremony.1973-At the dedication, the cost is listed at over $700 million and the Airport is called the costliest in the world. 1989-Space shuttle Atlantis is piggybacked into DFW on May 16 --the first landing by a space shuttle at a commercial airport. In July 1989, 10 black rhinoceros (endangered species) were airlifted by Lufthansa from the Zambesi Valley in Africa and delivered to DFW for transfer to several zoos and game preserves. Each weighing nearly half a ton, the rhinos were sedated. To maintain their balance, they traveled facing the direction of their flight. Temperature in the cargo hold was controlled between 16 and 22 degrees Celsius and lighting carefully regulated. 1990-DFW is the first U.S. airport to use a computerized parking control system. 1995-NAFTA Center opens at DFW Airport. In March, houses in the mitigation area were blown up by the TV show Walker, Texas Ranger. 1996-The Airport began landing four aircraft simultaneously under visual flight rules in October when runway 17L/35R opened. 1998-DFW is first U.S. airport to provide an automatic foreign currency exchange machine. 1998-Airport terminals are renamed A, C & E on the east and B on the west. 

KEY FACTS The DFW Airport Board has a fleet of more than 100 vehicles powered by alternative sources including electricity, compressed natural gas and other clean burning fuels. More than 40 percent of the Airport’s 18,000+ acres remains undeveloped. The Airport has protected more than 60 acres of existing watershed on its property and constructed 15 acres of new wetlands. The fossilized bones of a marine reptile, or plesiosaur, were found during the preliminary excavation of the Airport. They are now on display in the Airport’s Central Utilities Plant. Four cemeteries are located within the perimeter of DFW Airport. The north end of the old Amon Carter Airfield is visible on DFW property and is still used for miscellaneous parking and training exercises to the present day. DFW Airport covers parts of four cities and two counties: the cities are Coppell, Grapevine, Euless and Irving, and the counties are Dallas and Tarrant. DFW’s acreage is 18,076.297 (7,318 hectares or 29.8 square miles). DFW is second largest in acreage among U.S. airports (Denver is first). DFW Airport is larger than the island of Manhattan. DFW Airport has 28,000 parking spaces. DFW Airport has four terminals and 137 boarding gates.DFW is the only airport in the world with 7 operational runways. (verified w/ICAO; O’Hare also has seven, but one is not operational). Maximum simultaneous take-offs is four. Maximum simultaneous landings is three. Average number of take-offs and landings is 1,100 of each per day. Number of FAA control towers at DFW is three (although airlines have towers for gate control). DFW has three DVORDME Doppler radar towers. They are named Maverick, Cowboy and Ranger. A staff of 450 volunteer Airport Ambassadors is on hand in DFW terminals to assist passengers. DFW Ambassadors speak a total of 38 languages and over 120 volunteers are bilingual or multilingual. In 2003, Airport Ambassadors assisted 1,773,000 passengers. They have assisted over 5,800,000 passengers in the past five years.


Did you know that if you were to stack all of Clear Channel's advertising signs that are at DFW Airport end to end, you would have to build seven Reunion Towers to be as tall? If earth level is your cup of tea, all of Clear Channel's advertising signs at DFW Airport laid down side by side would cover the entire field at Texas Stadium. The total number of advertising impressions delivered by DFW's advertising signs is 80 million. This is over one-fourth of the total U.S. population.


All figures are approximations and are generated from DFW sales for 2003. 10,423,680 drinks were sold to people going through DFW Airport. 710,295 gallons of Pepsi products were delivered and sold at DFW Airport. This is enough to fill over 47 swimming pools (15,000 gallons). If a car wash were to use the amount of Pepsi products sold at DFW in 2003 instead of water, it could operate for nearly 6 months! A coin operated laundry could use the amount of Pepsi products sold at DFW in 2003 instead of water, for 3 1/2 months. You could fill over 70 gas tanker trucks with the amount of Pepsi products sold at DFW in 2003. If you placed every case sold at DFW in 2003 from end to end, they would stretch to 75 miles. You could fill the gas tank of over 12 Boeing 747s with the Pepsi products sold at DFW in 2003.