Friday marked 40 years for American Airlines at its Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) hub. While the airline had served the airport for years before, 1981 marked its first designation as a “hub.” Since then, American’s presence at DFW has exploded, becoming the largest airline in the US, with Dallas its biggest hub.
According to Dallas News, American’s Vice president of Dallas-Fort Worth operations, Jim Moses, wrote a memo to employees last Friday to mark the anniversary. In June 1981, American launched 11 new services out of DFW, officially designating the airport as one of its “network hubs” and kicking off an era of rapid expansion.
At the time, DFW was home to several major airlines. This included Delta, Continental, Braniff, and Northwest. American was also at the airport, with a presence there since the 1930s, but was by no means a leader. However, this began to change in 1979, when American Airlines moved its headquarters from New York City to Fort Worth.
In 1981, American grew its daily flights from Dallas from 128 to 218 per day, increasing the destinations served from 47 to 59. The airline added destinations like Austin, Lubbock, Orlando, and Portland during its first expansion. However, things did not stop there and American continued to expand as other airlines left or went out of business.
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Today, American Airlines is operating an impressive 870 daily flights out of Dallas-Fort Worth – a massive expansion. Now, the carrier accounts for 88% of passengers arriving or transiting through DFW. Competitors like Delta and United have significantly scaled back their presence as American doubled down.
American’s presence has also helped to attract other oneworld partners. British Airways, Korean Air, Qantas, and Japan Airlines all have direct flights to DFW. This has been a huge boost for the airport, which saw record-breaking traffic of 75 million passengers in 2019, up 25% from just two decades ago.
As the pandemic hit, Dallas continued to play a critical role for American as load factors fell and direct connections were cut. As the airline emerges from the pandemic, it is quickly scheduling new routes to countries as far away as New Zealand as well as to closer domestic cities. Indeed, the airlines has confirmed that the DFW hub will be key to remaining competitive in the future as well.
One reason for American’s continued success in Dallas-Fort Worth has been the sheer size of the airport. With 27 square miles of land, the hub has been able to host new terminals, maintenance hangars, and other important facilities.
American was also planning a new terminal at DFW, known as Terminal F. However, the pandemic has paused plans for the expensive project. However, expect to see the airlines continue growing its presence as it emerges from its worst year on record.
Have you transited through DFW with American? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!