Photo Courtesy DFW Airport
First of major changes expected to be unveiled later this year
Visitors to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport later this year will notice changes from new flooring to improved wall surfaces when they get their first look at major terminal renovations underway.
About 70 percent of terminal renovations are related to replacing and upgrading infrastructure, such as electrical, water and plumbing systems. When four of the airport’s nearly 40-year-old terminals are fully transformed by 2017, airport leaders anticipate energy-efficient upgrades will bring utility bills down by about 30 percent.
“We are going to have one of the most efficient and modern and greenest airports in the world when we are done with this,” said David Magaña, spokesman for the DFW Airport.
Saving money, making money
A majority of the changes underway to overhaul Terminals A, B, C and E are planned to extend the lifespan of the terminals, helping the airport to save money in the future. The airport will be “going green,” where appropriate, and installing energy-efficient HVAC systems and improving wall and roof insulation. The renovations are modeled after the international gateway Terminal D, which opened in July 2005.
The four other terminals built in 1974 were designed without security checkpoints and restaurants in mind.
“At that time, you flew on airplanes and you got fed on the airplane … there was not a lot of push for concessions in the airport,” Magaña said.
But times have evolved.
Magaña said the improvements will fulfill passenger needs, first starting with the process of checking in baggage, entering a security checkpoint, then emerging onto a large concessions villa.
“We are also taking an opportunity to re-imagine what the space should look like and how it should function,” Magaña said.
There will be more self-service ticketing kiosks, expanded security checkpoints and extra room for concessions. The improvements are planned to improve passenger flow and increase customer satisfaction.
The concessions are being rebid over time to fit the schedule of terminal construction, and airport leaders anticipate the changes will have a big impact on revenue.
Today in Terminal D, concessionaires bring in about $12 per passenger in sales, DFW Airport CEO Jeffrey Fegan said. In contrast, Terminal A brings in about $6 per passenger. Terminal A will generate about $12 per passenger after the changes.
“We have selected all new providers in Terminal A and you will be amazed when Terminal A opens at the quality of the concession program,” Fegan said.
Among the new selections in Terminal A will be Salt Lick Bar-B-Que and Twisted Root Burger Company. Dallas Cowboys Pro Shop, Swarovski and 7-Eleven will be arriving at terminals in the near future. New concessionaires will also offer a greater variety of food choices, including healthy and vegetarian menu options.
“We, as an airport, intentionally chose and sought upscale retail and restaurants in order to create a wider appeal for the international passenger,” Magaña said.
Passengers have been avoiding one section of Terminal A for 15 months now, but if construction goes smoothly, visitors to the DFW Airport will get their first peek at major terminal renovations by the end of this year.
The Terminal Renewal and Improvement Program is a seven-year, estimated $2.1 billion project geared toward redefining the passenger experience. The program, funded through airport revenue bonds, kicked off in February 2011 with anticipated completion in 2017. The changes underway will update terminals with the goal of turning the DFW Airport into a first-class global transportation hub.
“We handle 160,000 passengers a day through our terminal buildings,” Fegan said. “And it is important that we have an operating environment that is dependable and that the airlines can rely on, on a day-to-day basis.”
Each of the terminals are shaped like a semi-circle. Construction requires shutting down one-third of a semi-circle at a time. Work began for the first section of Terminal A from Gates A9 to A16 early last year. American Airlines, which used to occupy those gates, moved to its other gates in A, C and D.
“They have worked with us very well on the planning to make sure they had adequate room to continue doing their business,” Magaña said. “And we have done that by putting more flights at spare gates and adjusting flights to other terminals.”
Each terminal renovation is expected to take about three years to complete. Work for Terminal B and E will start next year, one section at time, overlapping with work for Terminal A. Construction for Terminal C will run from 2015 to 2017.
To battle confusion and impact to passengers, the airport has posted additional signage throughout the property, and added temporary concessions at the terminals under renovation. Early last year when the Terminal A parking garage reached more than 90 percent capacity, airport officials offered free valet parking upgrades to keep people moving.
“We really have kept these passenger disruptions to a minimum,” Magaña said.
In addition to terminal renovations, Terminal A parking facilities are being redesigned. A 3,000-square-foot, 5-level garage structure with about 7,700 parking spaces will replace the three existing garages to provide easier access to the terminals.
“That will have the look and feel of Terminal D — elevators, floor-to-ceiling heights that are sufficient, great lighting, good signage and even a system in there that will be able to tell you where a space might be available,” Fegan said.
The first phase of Terminal A parking improvements is expected to open later this year in conjunction with the first section of Terminal A. Both are planned to finish in late 2014. The enhanced parking is important, because parking is DFW Airport’s single largest revenue source, Magaña said, generating more than $100 million a year.
The massive undertaking is expected to pay off, airport leaders said, not only for passengers and the airport, but also for airlines looking to occupy and expand.
“The more revenue that we can earn through things like parking and concessions, the less it costs for an airline to do business here,” Magaña said.
DFW Airport-related projects
- DFW Connector project: The estimated $1.1 billion project to makeover Hwy. 114 and Hwy. 121 and adjacent roadways north of the DFW Airport is about 66 percent complete. The project is aimed at improving access at the north entrance of the DFW Airport.
- DFW Airport parking control plazas: Upgrades started this year to re-imagine the way drivers will enter into the airport.
- Dallas Area Rapid Transit: Construction for the new Orange Line station platform near Terminal A between International Parkway and North Service Road began in October 2011 and is planned to finish in late 2014.
- The 14-mile light rail will run parallel to the green line from downtown Dallas and arrive at the DFW Airport.
- TEX Rail: A rail station at Terminal B is planned for the proposed 37-mile commuter rail line from Fort Worth, into Grapevine and the DFW Airport.
Sources: DFW Airport, TEX Rail, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, NorthGate Constructors