D/FW Redirect

D/FW Redirect New International Centre is the first step in an aggressive plan to expand import/export services BY John Boyce, contributing editor September 1999 DFW AIRPORT, TX — What at first glance appeared to be a culmination...

Cox points out that this marketing plan is different to what D/FW used to do in marketing the airport. "What we used to do and what a lot of airports do was to bring in bright, shiny faces and say, ’Come to D/FW, we have a nice place and a big city.' It's a much more sophisticated business now. Joe, from the airline industry, and Emir bring a whole new level of sophistication that we haven't had. We clearly build a good working relationship (with airlines) and a dialogue and continue to crunch those numbers. Everything else is driven by if somebody is going to make money. That's what we try to build, a financial awareness."

One of the areas this marketing approach is in full force concerns regaining the cut flower business that was lost when UPS bought Challenge's routes. Challenge, as the Centre's lessor, in conjunction with Pineda, is aggressively pursuing a non-scheduled, as-needed service to bring in perishable cargo.

"We're working with them and other carriers to reinaugurate that service," Pineda says. "Challenge proved that D/FW is a great alternative to Miami for perishables. The fastest growing region for flowers is Texas and the Western U.S. It's the market of the future, a market of some $7 billion (annually). A huge market, a huge opportunity for those flower exporters and the airlines. Within the next few months, I think, we will see the reintroduction of that service to Latin America because the demand is there. It's an under-served market."

While air cargo business appears ready to explode at D/FW, over the past couple of years D/FW has shown a flatness or even a slight decline in its passenger numbers. Fegan explains it as a lack of gate facilities. "We have a full house here," he says.

As soon as some legal hurdles are overcome, Fegan says, the airport will begin a six-year, $2.5 billion capital improvement program that will include a 25-gate international terminal and an eighth runway. Fegan and other members of his staff are quick to point out, however, that the emergence of air cargo as an increasingly important part of D/FW's business is in no way related to the flatness in passenger numbers.

"I don't think cargo will ever be emphasized over passengers," Pineda says. "I think cargo will always be a complementary service or industry to passengers. Let's face it, the passenger will always be number one in the eyes of the airlines. The revenue you get from passenger services surpasses cargo.

"But as we continue to globalize our economy, cargo will continually grow in importance in the minds of businesspeople, in the minds of airports, and in the minds of industry worldwide. Let's face it, we need the business people to travel to make the deals and we need the freighters to carry the cargo. We (D/FW) just happen to be in the right place at the right time, with the right land, the right capacity and, I think, the right marketing approach to attract carriers. I think we can become the airport of the new century."

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