D/FW Airport Board Reaching Out to the World

In the landlocked Metroplex, air travel is our most viable form of long-range mass transit -- a kind of out-of-town-commuting.

Tarrant County's most direct option for this, of course, is Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, which has recently undergone some changes in leadership.

Gone are mainstays of the board of directors like Fort Worth's Bob McAfee and Dallas' Max Wells and Pedro Aguirre, names indelibly linked (among trans-philes at least) with the construction of D//FW's new Terminal D and Skylink people mover.

Their replacements are less familiar but not less qualified.

Ahead of them are less-glamorous but critical tasks: kicking off 30 years of debt management, keeping current tenants happy, attracting new tenants and increasing the airport's international profile.

The board now has less institutional knowledge than it did a few months ago. But we have high hopes for these 11 stewards, who are, as is usual at D//FW, a diverse group.

Take Dallas lawyer Robert Hsueh, who replaced Wells. Hsueh is an international law and immigration lawyer and founding chairman of the Greater Dallas Asian-American Chamber of Commerce.

"What I would like to commit us to is having direct flights to the greater China region -- China, Hong Kong, Taiwan -- and also to India," he says. In fact, he says he'll consider it a failure if he doesn't make progress on this front in the next four years.

Lillie Biggins, the newest representative from Fort Worth, says D//FW plays a big role in the kind of commutes that are too much of a hassle in cars. Biggins, a Cowtown native who replaced McAfee, is a nurse and now vice president of operations for Harris Methodist Fort Worth hospital.

Connecting jobs "over here" with people "over there," or vice versa, is a big part of what D//FW is and will be about, she says.

The first D//FW board chairman in the post-expansion era is former Fort Worth Councilman Jeff Wentworth, who points out that once people get here, it's a quick trip to anywhere in this hemisphere. From D//FW, for example, American Airlines has amazing reach -- a valuable convenience.

How convincing airlines and travelers find new and future board members remains to be seen.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press