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DFW Airport Newsroom

Golden Anniversary: DFW Airport Marks 50 years of Serving North Texas

DFW Airport, TX,January11,2024

50th PRIMARY LOGO Vertical


On Jan. 13, 1974, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) began operations as the country’s newest and most modern commercial airport, heralding in a new chapter for modern aviation. On Saturday, DFW will recognize its 50th anniversary by beginning a year-long celebration that reflects on the airport’s success, looks ahead to its exciting future and thanks the community for five decades of support.

“North Texas would not be the national success story it is today without DFW Airport. The City of Dallas has grown tremendously over the years in large part due to DFW,” said Eric L. Johnson, Mayor of Dallas. “While DFW has benefitted our region through jobs and supporting local businesses, it has also served as our connection to the world. We get to show the world all of the great things that make Dallas and North Texas so special. In the next 50 years, you can count on DFW and the City of Dallas welcoming even more businesses, residents, and visitors.”

“DFW Airport is key to what makes Fort Worth and North Texas excel among its peers. For the past 50 years, DFW has driven much of our economic growth and has ushered in a new generation of successful businesses that can easily reach across not only the country, but the entire world in hours,” said Mattie Parker, Mayor of Fort Worth. “Many successful Fort Worth businesses chose to relocate to Fort Worth thanks to DFW, including our hometown airline, American Airlines. We look forward to welcoming every new business, resident, and visitor that DFW brings to Fort Worth with open arms and to what the next 50 years of connection brings.”

“All of us at DFW Airport carry the proud legacy that was started by the Dallas and Fort Worth leaders who saw the potential for a combined commercial airport for Dallas and Fort Worth that could grow and support the region well into the future,” said Sean Donohue, DFW’s Chief Executive Officer. “After 50 years, this airport has become not only an economic driver for the region, but a central part of the success story of North Texas. We could not have achieved this without the support of our community, our business partners - especially our largest airline, American Airlines - and our employees. Tens of thousands of individuals make up the heartbeat of DFW, and the community is its soul. We thank our many partners, neighbors and friends around the world who have contributed to the ongoing success of this airport.”

“Congratulations to DFW Airport on its golden anniversary,” said American Airlines CEO Robert Isom. “It’s a true honor for American to have participated in 50 years of tremendous growth as DFW’s Hometown Airline, and we’re proud of the impact we have made, and will continue to make, together to spur ongoing growth in North Texas. Five decades of success does not happen without strong partnerships throughout the community. We thank DFW Airport, Mayor Parker and Mayor Johnson for their continued support as American and our 35,000 team members in North Texas continue to invest in our largest hub and the region for years to come.”

While the celebrations for the 50th anniversary will take place throughout the year, the initial activities include:

  • On Saturday morning, travelers inside DFW terminals will experience unique 50th anniversary giveaways including a special limited edition Coca-Cola bottle. Customers will also experience selfie stations and a special surprise performance in select terminals during the day. Airport customer experience teams also will unveil new 50th anniversary-themed uniforms. Passengers arriving on AA Flight 3589 from Little Rock, Ark., will receive a special water arch celebration and greeting at the gate in honor of the first flight to arrive at DFW from the city in 1974.
  • On Saturday night, the skylines in both Dallas and Fort Worth will display DFW Airport’s primary brand color – orange – as a way to commemorate the airport’s golden anniversary. This includes the Omni Dallas Downtown, Bank of America Plaza, One Arts Plaza, KPMG Plaza, AT&T Headquarters and Discovery District, Hunt Building, 1900 Pearl Street, 1900 N. Akard Street and Reunion Tower in Dallas, and City Hall and the 7th Street Bridge in Fort Worth.
  • On Sunday, the airport will place advertisements in local newspapers and other publications thanking the community for its support during the past 50 years.
  • DFW customers who book their parking online at least seven days in advance at DFWairport.com/park between Jan. 12-25 for travel through March 1 this year will celebrate 50 years by saving at least 50% off the drive-up rate for the terminal garages (just $13.50 per day, or less). Remote parking will be discounted to just $3 per day and Express lots will be discounted to just $6 per day. Use offer code DFW50 at checkout.
  • Additional celebrations, and surprises, will happen throughout the year. In the weeks and months ahead, DFW will share additional details about each opportunity and memorable moments to come during its 50th anniversary year.

In 1974, DFW was the largest airport ever constructed in the U.S. and was twice the size of any before it. The airport began operations with nine airlines, and today is home to 28 airlines – including 16 international airlines – with service to 256 destinations around the world. With an estimated 80 million passengers in 2023, DFW is now the second-busiest airport in the world. With its central location, DFW allows customers to reach any major metropolitan area in North America within four hours. This has made DFW a critical piece of the expansive growth of Dallas, Fort Worth and the entire North Texas region. DFW is American Airlines' largest hub with operations from the airport to nearly every corner of the globe. DFW has seen many historic moments during the past 50 years, including as the first U.S. airport to host the supersonic Concorde on Sept. 20, 1973, the first U.S. airport to host a visit by a NASA space shuttle on May 16, 1989, and the first American airport with the ability to land four aircraft at the same time.

The airport also has grown to become a major economic engine for the regional economy. DFW’s contribution includes supporting an annual payroll of $38 billion, benefitting over 634,000 jobs. Notably, the number of jobs supported by DFW saw an increase of about 25%, rising from over 500,000 in 2015 to 634,000 in 2019. Visitors to DFW and the surrounding region generate $24 billion in economic activity each year. This resulted in more than $3 billion in state taxes and $2 billion in local taxes, further contributing to the region's economy.

Media Assets

Below, you will find additional messaging and digital assets that can be used throughout the year when referring to DFW Airport and the celebration of its 50th anniversary. DFW is providing media partners with access to some of DFW's historical images through a digital toolkit which can be found below. DFW has also created a special logo to commemorate its 50th anniversary which can be found here. We ask that you use this logo only when referencing DFW Airport’s anniversary beginning Jan. 13 and only for the duration of the anniversary year in 2024. For any questions or clarification regarding use or branding, please contact Media@dfwairport.com.

Click here for a digital press kit with DFW 50th anniversary assets, including photos and video.

Then and Now

World's largest airport by land areaThird largest airport by land area
Four terminalsFive terminals (sixth to break ground in 2024
Three runwaysSeven runways
66 gates171 gates
Nine airlines28 airlines
6.8 million passengers80 million passengers (estimated)
75,000 tons of cargo791,192 tons of cargo (FY)

Major Airport Milestones

  • 1965 – Cities of Dallas and Fort Worth formed interim Board to plan and develop what would become DFW Regional Airport
  • 1973 – Concorde made first landing in U.S. at DFW Airport prior to opening
  • 1974 – Opened as DFW Regional Airport – four terminals, three runways, 66 gates
  • 1977 – Ranked as world’s third busiest airport
  • 1979 – American Airlines moved headquarters from New York to Fort Worth, TX
  • 1981 – American Airlines established DFW Airport as its first hub
  • 1983 – Opened fourth and fifth runways
  • 1985 – Renamed to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport
  • 1986 – Opened sixth runway and served more than 43 million passengers
  • 1989 – First commercial airport to host a space shuttle landing
  • 1992 – Initiated first environmental impact statement
  • 1994 – Two new control towers completed and Fire Training and Research Center opened
  • 1996 – Opened seventh runway; only airport in the world with seven runways at the time
  • 2000 – International cargo center and international perishable treatment facility opened
  • 2000 – New consolidated rent-a-car facility opened
  • 2005 – Terminal D, Skylink and Grand Hyatt opened
  • 2016 – Named Airports Council International’s “Best Large Airport in North America”
  • 2019 – Named Air Transport World’s “Airport of the Year”
  • 2020 – Earned U.N. Global Climate Action Award
  • 2021 – Terminal D South extension opened
  • 2022 – Terminal C “High C Gates” opened and DFW is again named Airports Council International’s “Best Large Airport in North America”
  • 2023 – Established new Use and Lease Agreement pre-approving capital projects, including rebuilding Terminal C and constructing new Terminal F

About Dallas Fort Worth International Airport: Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) is one of the world’s busiest and most connected airports. Celebrating 50 years of service in 2024, DFW is proud to be not only a major port for North America but also a vital community asset. Centered between its owner cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, it serves as a major economic engine generating jobs and attracting businesses. DFW is committed to providing exceptional customer service and in 2023 was named the best large airport for customer satisfaction in North America by Airports Council International. A leader in sustainability, DFW is the world’s largest and North America’s first carbon-neutral airport. In 2023, DFW Airport served over 80 million passengers and offered more than 250 global destinations. For more information, visit the DFW website or download the DFW Mobile App for iOS and Android devices.

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