What AA bankruptcy means to D/FW Airport



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Posted on November 29, 2011 at 7:49 PM

D/FW AIRPORT — American Airlines has had a huge impact on Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, and has also helped shape the entire commercial aviation industry.

Six out of every 10 passengers who fly through D/FW travel with American. Its survival could shape the world's fourth-busiest airport.

American has been trying to avoid an economic crash landing for most of the decade. Most of its competitors did crash in bankruptcy, but American set out on another route.

Last summer, however, then-CEO Gerard Arpey knew American was in trouble. "I want to thank you and your teams for your confidence in American Airlines for understanding the challenges and opportunities in front of us," he said.

American recently pulled off the largest aircraft purchase in history; not the first time it set a trend.

The carrier invented frequent flyer miles, and is now the driving force behind bustling D/FW Airport.

Every American plane that lands pays a fee. Four out of the five D/FW terminals handle American flights.

Tom Horton, the new CEO at American Airlines parent AMR Corp., did not say directly how or if the carrier's leases at D/FW will change.

"As we think about optimizing the network and optimizing the fleet, we have a cornerstone strategy, which is the hubs ... New York, Chicago, L.A., Dallas and Miami," he said. "In those places, you will see our action show a strong commitment."

As Horton headed off to his new job, he has a mandate to trim expenses, and some of those could be at American's hometown airport.

On Tuesday afternoon, D/FW Airport issued a statement saying it expects to be part of American's recovery strategy while acknowledging that a program to update terminals at the airport could be slowed.

E-mail bharris@wfaa.com