Due to 11th-hour delays, Terminal D's July 6 opening will be only ceremonial -- and it might not even be on July 6.
Dallas/Fort Worth Airport officials are now looking to gradually open Terminal D, with regular international flights operating by July 23. They also confirmed that there is no solid date yet for Terminal D's main tenant, American Airlines, to move in, but it will probably be after international service starts.
That doesn't count American shifting some domestic flights to Terminal D sometime after that.
"It appears that our opening will be a transition in the month of July," said Jeff Fegan, D/FW chief executive officer. "We're looking at a couple of ceremonial flights the second week of July, and it's really the third and fourth week of July when the big movements take place."
One hang-up is in the construction of the terminal's baggage-handling system. The delays have now put testing of the system behind schedule, said Mark Skjervem, Terminal D executive manager.
Siemens is the subcontractor in charge of installation. Battelle is the testing contractor for the Transportation Security Administration.
"We're doing all of the security testing as we speak, functional testing for American Airlines," Skjervem said. "I wish it was done two weeks ago, absolutely."
Also, construction is continuing for about 20 concessionaires.
As late as last week, at least one concessionaire asked architect-of-record Corgan Associates for "start-up" design work, said David Lind, Corgan's managing principal. Some concessions will take until mid-August to complete, Fegan said.
Where construction is not finished in concessions areas, "we will have temporary partitions up" for the opening, said Kevin Cox, D/FW chief operating officer.
During the June 13 black-tie gala for Terminal D, it was apparent that the south half of the terminal, where the foreign carriers will have gates, had more construction remaining than the north half, where American will be located.
Clay Paslay, D/FW executive vice president of airport development, however, said that the majority of the remaining construction work is cosmetic and that the terminal will be "operational," with concessions gradually opening through July.
Between now and the opening, the bulk of work at Terminal D will be system testing, making sure everything works, as well as helping airlines and employees familiarize themselves with the terminal, Paslay said.
In the Know
Dallas/Fort Worth Airport's board will hold a special meeting at 1 p.m. Thursday to discuss the fiscal 2006 operating budget, estimated at $635.2 million -- 31.8 percent higher than this year.
The budget accounts for the first full year of operating Terminal D and Skylink, as well as debt payments for the airport's expansion.
The meeting will be at the Rental Car Center, 2424 E. 28th St.
Testing of baggage and computer systems has not convinced D/FW staff members that the terminal can handle the large scope of American's operations.
Terminal D was built during the most volatile time in aviation history. Under its graceful, glassy skin, it's a steel-reinforced behemoth, augmented with almost $80 million in security features.
With Terminal D's opening pushed back 17 days, Dallas/Fort Worth Airport officials are adding training for airline and terminal workers.
Mexicana Airlines, which was Dallas/Fort Worth Airport's original international airline when the airport opened in 1974, is back after a 13-year absence.