Say that out loud with me: Terminal D.
There's nothing really sexy or even remotely inviting about the name of the newest building at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.
Except that in the case of this new jewel, the "D" could easily stand for Dynamic .
This $1.2 billion facility, which handles international flights, is a modern-day wonder, an architectural masterpiece and an amazing haven for travel-weary passengers.
Its design is not just customer-friendly. It borders on customer-pampering. But because D/FW is competing with at least five other major airports for international passengers, D/FW officials knew that this terminal had to be top tier. They have succeeded on all fronts, from the breathtaking, airy structural design and magnificent public art to the ease of ticketing, expedited customs service and classy restaurants.
Terminal D more than complements the airport we call North Texas' "economic engine." It has instantly become an integral part D/FW's current operation and a distinguished symbol of its future.
"This is a world-class building for two world-class cities," said Joe Lopano as we toured the terminal last week in anticipation of the beginning of American Airlines' international operations there this past weekend.
Lopano, D/FW's executive vice president for marketing, said 60 percent of the business in Terminal D will come from "flow passengers" - people flying to and from other countries who have layovers at D/FW.
Those "flow passengers," Lopano said, are an important part of the airport's economics. "They help to fund this airport," he said.
The investment in Terminal D, and its long-term potential in attracting many more international flights, is one more reason that we must continue to fight repeal of the Wright Amendment, the law that restricts flights out of Dallas Love Field.
Lifting those restrictions would cause an erosion of service at D/FW as airlines moved to compete with Love-based Southwest Airlines on nonstop flights.
In addition to forcing cancellation of many flights to secondary and tertiary markets, repeal of the Wright Amendment is also likely to cause a carrier like American to cut back on its international flights and, thus, reduce the number of those "flow passengers."
"As traffic moves to Love Field, there will be fewer people to pay for all this," D/FW Executive Director Jeff Fegan said.
Fegan, who was one of the guides on my tour last week, said, "We waited two years before starting this process to get permission from Dallas and Fort Worth to build Terminal D, with assurances that the Wright Amendment would not be in play."
Now, of course, Southwest has put the amendment in play, waging an expensive campaign with the public and the Congress to change the rules to which it had once agreed.
Several years ago, senators from Alabama, Mississippi and Kansas were successful in expanding the Wright Amendment restrictions to give Southwest permission to fly directly from Love Field to those three states.
Would you be surprised to know that Southwest has no flights from Love to any of those states?
Congress should stay out of this fight altogether, but certainly no member of Congress should even consider repealing the Wright Amendment until Southwest starts sharing a little of its Love with Alabama, Mississippi and Kansas.
Meanwhile, we have a super international airport with a bustling new international terminal which we can all be proud of, and which we must continue to protect.
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