Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is ready to expand, and airport officials say an expansion may be necessary based upon projections.
A new study, conducted by The Perryman Group, shows D/FW Airport could see an estimated 70 million passengers per year by the year 2020. That's seven million more passengers than now. The airport's CEO, Sean Donohue, said the 165 gates currently available aren't enough.
"When we look at data of passenger growth, D/FW will be larger than Chicago O'Hare Airport within the next 10 years, in terms of passengers," said Donohue.
Nothing is on the table yet, but the airport is in preliminary discussions with airlines to potentially build a Terminal F on the opposite side of Terminal E. The terminal would likely accommodate domestic and international flights and have a minimum of 30 gates.
The airport's Skylink system already runs through that area.
"We have the space for growth," said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. "We're going to look at several different options, and we're going to talk to our customers, focus on the customers, so it's not going to be the mayor of Dallas decision."
The new study shows D/FW Airport has an economic impact of $37 billion annually.
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"It also supports 228,000 jobs in the region and $12.5 billion of payroll," said Donohue. "So this airport continues to be a significant economic engine for the region."
The project to build a new terminal would take five years to complete, and Donohue said he would like to get the OK from the airlines, such as Fort Worth-based American Airlines, early next year to begin construction in 2016.
"We have almost unlimited growth opportunities – seven runways, no other airport in the world has more than seven runways – so from an airfield perspective, we're in great shape," said Donohue.