DFW AIRPORT — Like other airports around the country, Dallas/Fort Worth International is waiting to move forward with an in-line baggage screening system for its terminals. Airport officials say all the groundwork has been laid. While the wait for the Transportation Security Administration to allocate funds continues, DFW is moving along with a multibillion dollar capital development program, which began pre-9/11.
"We’re at the altar," airport CEO Jeff Fegan says. "Any day we’re expecting to get an LOI (letter of intent) MOU (memorandum of understanding) from the TSA to basically agree to pay us back for 75 percent of the costs of the facilities and improvements. We’ve done everything short of actually starting construction. The real project and money will be spent when we get the letter of intent."
Further, Fegan says, "I understand why it’s only 75 percent and not 100 percent—there’s a limited amount of resources out there. I think most airports and all airlines are saying they think TSA should pay 100 percent… It’s a TSA function, and it should be a TSA cost, but it’s probably the best that we can do at this time. The bigger problem is it’s 2003, and we were ready two years ago. Now we’re not as far along as we could have been/should have been. The federal government hasn’t found a way to get us the necessary resources. I’ve been waiting for this LOI ‘any day now’ for the last three months"
DFW was able to begin construction on an in-line system in Terminal C, with funding provided by a $26 million FAA grant. It is estimated that the cost of in-line systems in terminals A, B, and E will total some $140 million and could be completed by spring 2004.
DFW is also in the midst of a $2.6 billion, five-year capital development program, which includes airfield projects, an automated people mover (APM) system, the construction of Terminal D, support and infrastructure projects, and roadway infrastructure projects.
Terminal D, set to open during first quarter 2005, will be the new home to all international flights, according to officials. The two million- square foot facility will feature 28 gates and is poised to handle 12.5 million enplanements annually. The project also encompasses a new Grand Hyatt Hotel and an 8,000-car parking ramp, which includes an integration of technologies from Federal APD as part of a facilities management control application to automate functions and increase vehicle throughput.
The APM is a closed-loop system that spans nearly five miles in circumference, and goes around terminals A, B, C, D, E, and the future Terminal F. The fleet of 64 Bombardier cars will travel in pairs and can hold some 60 persons. On opening day, the APM is expected to be capable of handling 5,000 passengers per hour in each direction, with the average train ride lasting eight minutes. According to Perfecto Solis, APM program manager, the first car is already in the dynamic testing phase and the entire system is on track for operation first quarter 2005. Each terminal will have two APM stations, where passengers can load and unload from either side of the car.
Solis explains before any work on the APM system could be done, some $40 million in gate remodeling was completed to make way for the rail.
APPROVAL OF PARTNERS
DFW has an agreement with its tenants under which any major project where new debt is issued requires the approval of more than half of those tenants who are signatory to the airport’s use agreement, which most of the airline tenants are, according to Clay Paslay, executive VP of airport development.
Fegan adds, "Basically, if you don’t have American Airlines, you don’t have a vote. And, if you have American Airlines and don’t have most of the other carriers, you don’t have a vote."
The airport was able to finance the capital development project primarily through PFCs. Currently, the airport collects $4.50 per ticket, with $3 going toward the terminal and people mover projects, and $1.50 toward other projects.