Mason Investment Group, LLC

DFW International was just named global airport of the year. Here’s why.

As it prepares for a record year of growth in 2019, DFW International Airport was recognized as the world’s top airport Thursday by a leading industry publication.

Air Transport World commended DFW for its transformation into a “global mega-hub” that has seen it invest in new facilities and technologies to serve passengers while keeping costs low for the airlines that operate there.

“[DFW] Airport truly stood out for its innovation, operational excellence on focus on serving its customers,” Karen Walker, editor-in-chief of ATW, said in a statement.

The recognition puts DFW in a class with other global hubs, including recent award winners Hong Kong International Airport, London’s Heathrow and Singapore’s Changi Airport. American Airlines was recognized by the publication as airline of the year in 2017.
“In the airline industry, the ATW award is essentially like winning an Oscar,” DFW’s CEO Sean Donohue told hundreds of employees who gathered outside the airport headquarters to celebrate Thursday morning. “When they name a winner, it’s a big deal.”

The 2019 Airline Industry Awards were announced in New York. DFW and the other airports considered for airport of the year were evaluated on a number of criteria, from customer service to terminal facilities to operational efficiency.

DFW, the fourth-largest airport in the U.S., added 28 destinations last year and boasts more domestic destinations than any other U.S. airport. It also announced nine new international flights in 2018.

The airport has invested billions in its terminals in recent years, from a $2 billion makeover of three terminals to installing new technologies like light-filtering electrochromic glass and signs that display real-time security waits.

DFW is also the world’s largest carbon-neutral airport and the only one in the U.S.

“It’s a credit to the nearly 2,000 employees of DFW Airport, who continually go above and beyond to take care of customers, address the needs of stakeholders, and engage with our surrounding communities,” DFW Airport’s CEO Sean Donohue said in a statement.

Thursday’s celebration featured Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and DFW board chairman Bill Meadows. The airport will be honored by ATW at a gala in March.

Rawlings said the airport has played a key role in driving the region’s continued growth and will be an important asset into the future. The airport generates a regional economic impact estimated at $37 billion annually, according to the Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“To be the very best, to beat everybody else out, to be at the top … is a great day for North Texas,” Rawlings told airport employees Thursday. “Soak it in. Rarely do you win the Super Bowl.”

The recognition comes as DFW prepares for its largest increase in passenger traffic in more than a decade, with its main tenant American Airlines planning to add as many as 100 daily regional flights out of a soon-to-open Terminal E satellite concourse.

The airport expects an average of nearly 200,000 passengers per day and about 1,900 daily flights in 2019.

Within a decade, the airport’s passenger volumes could grow to 100 million per year, Donohue said, compared with a projected 73 million in 2019. That’s forcing airport and airline leaders to look at how the airport will continue to grow into the future, including a possible new terminal.