Alliance is poised to attract more cargo carriers, after opening a 99,000-square-foot storage facility right on the apron. The warehouse was built in hopes of attracting new cargo service to Alliance. So far none has signed on since the building opened in April.
But Hillwood, which built the warehouse and develops the land around the airport, has talked with two carriers who are "seriously interested" in coming to Alliance, said Tom Harris, senior vice president of Hillwood.
Alliance usually competes with D/FW for cargo carriers, but Harris said it's a healthy competition that he doesn't mind facing.
"I'd be fibbing to you if I sat here and told you it was easy," he said. "But we compete in the same manner with a lot of other very, very well-run industrial parks."
Although its 12,000-square-foot local cargo facility at Dallas Love Field is one of its 10 busiest, Southwest Airlines has no plans to expand there.
Love Field also has two all-cargo carriers, DHL Worldwide Express and Airborne Express. But cargo is such a low priority, officials don't even track how much comes and goes, said Terry Mitchell, assistant director of aviation for the city of Dallas.
"Cargo occurs here, but we don't make a big deal out of it," Mitchell said. "From the airport's standpoint, it's just leased space we give the cargo operators and that's about it."
Air cargo has intentionally flown under the radar screen of airports for many years, said Steven Bradford, principal in charge of Trammell Crow Co.'s 35-acre air cargo project at D/FW Airport.
"Air cargo is boxes," he said. "It's not high-profile celebrities arriving with cameras at the international terminal. It doesn't have the high-dollar concessions associated with the terminal."
The Trammell Crow project, which began in 1997 and includes seven buildings, serves as a model for other international air cargo parks across the country.
In developing the warehouses, Bradford said, he's noticed airports are finally recognizing that cargo and passenger services are complimentary rather than competing services.
"The two in combination can work really well together," he said. "It can have a profound impact on the profitability of the airport."
Fifty metric tonnes of cargo will arrive at DFW on each of the three weekly flights from Hong Kong.
North Texas' low international profile is one of many challenges officials face as they labor to attract new flights to foreign destinations.
Yangtze River Express will land at DFW International Airport four times weekly beginning May 22.
Dallas/Fort Worth Airport saw ticket prices drop last year, particularly on routes to distant cities -- but it still remains one of the most expensive airports in the nation for travelers.