D/FW to use gas well money to spruce up terminals

June 7, 2007
$45 million to come from drilling proceeds

Parts of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport are beginning to look a little run down, so airport officials plan to apply a $45 million freshening to the airport's older terminals.

A committee of the D/FW board on Tuesday approved plans to refurbish bathrooms, replace carpet and signs, and otherwise fix up the place over the next year. The full board is to vote on the plans Thursday.

Airport managers told board members that passengers have noticed that D/FW, more than 30 years old, needs some improvements. The new Terminal D, with its new furnishings and modern design, underscores how much Terminals A, B, C and E need to be brought up to date, the managers said.

Joe Lopano, D/FW Airport's executive vice president of marketing and terminal management, said D/FW has to compete with other airlines for passengers who have a choice of airports.

"This will bring our terminals up, way up," Mr. Lopano said.

The funds would come from a $185 million payment from Chesapeake Energy Corp., which won the rights to drill natural gas wells on airport property.

"It's a pretty good investment," Mr. Lopano said.

Among the major improvements are an improved heating and cooling system and new jet bridges for Terminal E; air-conditioning units to cool parked airplanes; auto-docking equipment for aircraft coming into gates; and new seating, signs and lighting.

Jim Crites, the airport's executive vice president of operations, said the work would probably start in several months, with all projects completed in about a year. Restroom refurbishment will probably take the longest, he said.

Board members balked at a proposal to spend $5 million to promote D/FW Airport primarily in Latin America and Asia.

Visit D/FW, a new group formed by the convention and visitors bureaus of Dallas and Fort Worth, would have received the contract.

Member Jeff Wentworth of Fort Worth said he thought the North Texas Commission's job was to promote the airport, and he worried that the airport would face an ever-growing demand for money to support Visit D/FW.

The item was deferred to Thursday's board meeting. D/FW chief executive Jeff Fegan said the mayors of Fort Worth and Dallas had brought the proposal to the airport.

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