Dallas Forth Worth (DFW) International Airport CEO Jeff Fegan presented the “state of the airport” address to the board of directors Thursday, highlighting DFW’s success through tough economic times and calling for continued development and growth of the region’s economic engine.
“DFW is very aware of the current economic conditions affecting the aviation industry throughout the nation and the world,” said Fegan. “All the work we do at the airport is grounded in the vision of connecting the world, one of the key drivers of our success. We could not have achieved our goals without our engaged workforce who continuously strive to keep our airport very cost competitive for our airline partners.”
In his address, Fegan demonstrated how airport management kept the 2009 airport budget from increasing over the 2008 figure. He said the DFW management team is continuing to find cost savings to offset declining revenues, resulting from lighter travel demand in a challenging economy. Last year, the airport cut $23 million from the fiscal 2009 budget. This year, the airport is forecasting another drop of $20 million in revenues and has already identified $18 million in savings and reductions to offset the difference.
The board was presented extensive research that shows DFW is one of the most cost-competitive airports in the country. Only 35 percent of its costs are paid with airline revenues, making DFW one of the most airline-friendly airports in the nation in terms of cost of doing business. No tax dollars are part of DFW’s annual operating budget, and the Airport continues to find ways to drive down airline costs with new revenues.
Fegan noted that aviation is frequently an early indicator of economic upturn and called DFW “well-positioned as a mid-continent mega-hub” as conditions improve.
“Despite facing strong regional and national competition, DFW has maintained its benefits of minimum airspace and facility constraints, and we hold a strategic advantage when airlines are looking to grow and expand their service,” added Fegan.
Fegan pointed out that the Airport continues to be the major catalyst to the North Texas economy, generating more than $16 billion dollars in annual economic activity, and supporting over 300,000 full-time jobs. He said regionalism is key to the future of North Texas with DFW at the epicenter.
“We are well aware that we are opinion leaders in the area and our ideas can help develop and shape policies that affect North Texas,” said Fegan. “Monumental changes have occurred since DFW’s opening in 1973, and the Airport understands the economic decisions we make are necessary to continue the region’s growth. Any airport in the nation would welcome the challenges we face, and we will continue to look for ways to create more economic impact.”
Following the presentation, board members offered support, and Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief calling the report’s key data “proof in the pudding.”
“When you look at the big picture, we have to be doing something right,” said Mayor Moncrief. “An airport is only as valuable as the staff and leaders it surrounds itself with, and we have to remain competitive and set the bar high.”
Board member Lillie Biggins also commended DFW’s action plan, and described employees who will implement the strategic objectives as “the spine of the airport.”
“The people here are the heart of the airport who ultimately understand the magnitude of responsibility DFW has to the region,” Biggins said. “The days ahead of us will be better than days behind us, and we must be more engaged to get deals done to benefit the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Overall, the North Texas region is much better off than many other areas and DFW plays a role in the success.”
“The high levels of expertise we have at DFW rival any other airport,” said Ben Muro, chairman of the DFW board of directors. “Nothing’s perfect, but in my opinion, DFW is the best airport in the world with top notch employees who welcome the challenges ahead.”
Board members also voiced support for the airport’s engagement in the planning and hosting of Super Bowl XLV, to be held in Arlington at the new Dallas Cowboys football stadium in February 2011. The stadium is visible from DFW and the airport is actively working with the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee.