For the cash-strapped airport concessionaires, help is on the way.
Dallas/Fort Worth Airport plans to waive about $3.25 million that it would normally charge concessionaires in Terminal D, where American Airlines delayed a much-anticipated opening by three months, and in Terminal E, where Delta Air Lines slashed almost all of its operations last year.
The airport said Tuesday that it expects to lose up to $3 million in revenue by waiving several months' worth of rent for its 59 concession spots in Terminal D.
And $250,000 more in aid will come in the form of a waiver for increased parking charges that were supposed to begin this month.
Concessionaires will have their rent waived from September through the end of October. The expiration date on their five- or 10-year leases will also be pushed back to make up for the delay.
About half of the terminal's concession shops have not been able to open because there aren't enough customers walking through the terminal. The six international airlines that have been flying from the new terminal since its opening July 23 have brought in about 4,200 passengers a day. That's expected to jump by 12,000 to 15,000 passengers when American begins flying Oct. 29.
"These folks in Terminal D have been hurt," Kevin Cox, D/FW Airport's chief operating officer, told members of the airport board's finance and audit committee Tuesday.
When the airport replaced its old people-mover system with the Skylink automated train this year, the path changed, and employee parking lots were cut out of Skylink's route.
D/FW was forced to start up a $2.8 million bus system to carry airport workers from the two employee lots to the terminal. To cover that cost, the airport raised the monthly fees from $30 an employee to $40, effective Oct. 1.
But airport officials then decided that they didn't want concessionaires, particularly those in terminals D and E, to take on that extra cost, said Chris Poinsatte, chief financial officer of D/FW.
On Tuesday, the finance and audit committee agreed to waive the $10 increase for the next six months for concessionaire employees.
The full board will need to approve the decision when it meets Thursday.
Some Terminal D concessionaires have said that even though they can't recoup lost revenue from the past couple of months, the rent abatements are fair.
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Most of 63 retail spots were ready for business at the end of July. But their main source of income -- American Airlines daily passengers -- has been noticeably absent from the terminal.
After three quiet months of waiting, concessionaires are sweeping away frustrations and building up their staffs for a Saturday opening.
Dallas/Fort Worth Airport officials are now looking to gradually open Terminal D, with regular international flights operating by July 23.
D/FW officials are quietly asking American -- the dominant market-share leader -- to spread its flights more evenly across gates.