DFW Airport Will Build A New Terminal, Refurbish 50 Year Old Terminal C

Four years ago American Airlines and Dallas – Fort Worth airport came to agreement on terminal improvements that included piecemealing a new terminal F and refreshing terminal C. At the time this was estimated to cost $3 to $3.5 billion.

Capital construction was part of master lease negotiations. The old lease expired in 2020, but was extended due to the pandemic. With American representing over 85% of passenger traffic, they have the lion’s share of say. And together with their joint venture partners they’re able to exercise de facto control. So it was American on hand with the CEO of the airport when they announced a new master lease today, that finally included plans for the new terminal and existing terminal refresh.

Here’s where the new terminal will go:

The plan calls for spending $1.63 billion on building a 15 gate terminal F. The long-term project has been for 24 gates. The plan was originally to complete the project by 2025, but that’s no longer in the cards since it hasn’t started yet.

  • This project looks like a huge compromise. The rest of Dallas – Fort Worth is built with local travelers in mind. But there doesn’t appear to be a parking garage across from this terminal, and there may not even be check-in and TSA. It looks built for connections, or long schlepps from another terminal.

  • And it’s still being priced at over $100 million per gate. While the terminal will be new, it looks like it’ll be inconvenient for anyone originating or terminating in Dallas.

Dilapidated terminal C, which was supposed to be renovated along with A, B and E as part of the airport’s previous TRIP program, will finally see renovations. In total the airport expects to spend $2.72 billion to include expanding check-in areas, refreshing terminal C, and adding gates to the A and C concourses, along with making changes to the roadways leading into the airport.

Before the pandemic the airport’s CEO suggested pouring billions into terminal C was a bad idea because you’d still have a 50 year old facility. That airport wanted to build a new terminal F, then tear down and replace terminal C. Now of course the airport and local politicians are solidly behind the plan, declaring victory, since it’s the best they were going to do. Ultimately, though, American has agreed to more than the $500 million they signed onto for terminal C renovation back in 2019.

The airport expects about 78 million passengers in 2023, up from 75 million in 2019. They need to expand over the long term, and this lets them do it, but we don’t yet know what the project will entail in its entirety or when we’ll see it come to fruition. Projects take longer than you’d expect, even accounting for knowing that they take longer than you’d expect. Even in Texas.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Hopefully when they renovate Terminal C they won’t forget to renovate the bathrooms. Terminal A is great, but the bathrooms are third-world.

  2. Wow. F looks like a copy/paste of the high C gate construction technique. While they are super nice, the one Skylink stop at an awkward position, no baggage carousels, no security, only 15 gates to start with, and lack of customs/Immigration leaves me scratching my head. I get the idea of a connecting terminal, but you’re limiting future flexibility while turning Terminal D baggage claim into a nightmare. Looks rushed to me.

  3. With the Airtrain inside security (originally outside), it makes little sense to have parking there.

  4. Signatory airlines which include DL and UA EACH can veto projects which means that AA does not have complete say in anything at DFW.
    However, airlines almost never object to another airline’s construction plans in their own hubs. It will be up to AA to pay the majority of bills but other airlines do have the right to veto terminal construction plans if there isn’t a balance.

    Either way, it is clear that AA will be spending on terminals what it is not spending on fleet spending A number of DL hubs need facelifts

  5. In my opinion big mistake waiting. Should have rolled with the original plan and ignored covid. They’d be way ahead now especially with covid lowering demand. I don’t see F “inconvenience” as a big deal. Compared to ATL it’s still wonderful for O&D.

  6. I’m hearing that this concourse (it’s definitely not a standalone terminal) is a major win for AA in that it will be a major impediment to Southwest starting flights there in a couple years when the agreement functionally limiting them to Love Field expires. Basically there won’t be anywhere at DFW for Southwest to occupy an economically effective number of gates.

    Besides that, with only one Skylink station, no roadway access and no pedestrian bridges to the other terminals they’ve got the ultimate single point of failure. Close that one station for an emergency and the concourse is totally cut-off.

  7. Yeah… sorry tim. Delta and United do not have individual veto power at dfw. Do your research.

  8. I have to fly in/out of DFW for the first time this Summer…and I’m already dreading it. Why are major American airports so consistently inferior to their European, Asian, and Middle East counterparts?

  9. yes, Max
    DL and UA are REQUIRED to sign off on capital spending at DFW just as AA has to at ATL etc.

    That is just the way the system works.

    DL and UA have no reason to block what AA is doing but they do indeed have that right in order to ensure that AA and only AA pays the expenses for its expansion.

    You might want to study the history of AA, DL and UA at ORD to see how this works. DL moved to Terminal 5 under a different cost structure than AA and UA will have with the huge new terminal and the big new ORD terminal could not happen until DL gave its ok.

    If you would spend less time arguing w/ me and more time learning about the industry, you could contribute a whole lot more.

  10. DFW is a straight up mess. Full services at each terminal is a total wreck, local traffic is a mess at each. Rebuild, starting with a single main terminal building (or a north and a south terminal) that feeds all travelers onto Skylink… That system is convenient enough that transiting between existing terminals is very easy. Then build a rail system to the rental car facility which is currently comically far from everything.

    DFW has the property, it’s now time to do things right

  11. @Richard: Seriously, apparently you have not been to CDG or AMS lately! CDG has to be the worst airport in the world. Liking busing, yes busing, between terminals on a connection. And the bus can get stuck behind a tug pulling baggage carts using the same road. If that’s not 3rd world what is? Geez!

  12. This looks like the start of a future DFW. Once built we could see expansion and other terminals getting replaced. Much better design then the original. Now if we could only fix Dallas’ weather.

  13. I’m probably the oddball here, but I personally love DFW. I have flown into and out of just once as O&D, but have connected through the airport dozens if not hundreds of times. Even had mis-connects due to 1.5 hours of taxi time! That aside, it’s big, especially terminal D, has plenty of lounges, plenty of restaurants, plenty of shops. It’s what a major airport should be.

  14. @Matt, for any O&D DFW is a fantastic airport–quick from curb to gate without any need for getting on a train. Just turn up and leave. By far one of my favorite airports for just general ease of use. For transiting, not so much.

    Turning it into a big central hall or north and south complex sounds like the mess that is DEN…

  15. I’ve always had a great transfer experience at DFW, and I think their foresight type layout is one for the future.

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