Issue No. 710

Dallas-Fort Worth Is Ready to Grow Again

Of America’s 30 busiest airports, just one—only one shows double digit growth in year over year seat capacity next quarter. Oddly enough, it’s home to America’s slowest growing airline.

Dallas-Fort Worth, the home hub of American Airlines, is more tortoise than hare when it comes to traffic growth. Last year, passenger volumes increased just 3%, to 69m. The year prior, traffic grew 2%. And the year before that? No growth at all. In one sense, that makes sense: Growth at DFW is sluggish because its dominant carrier American is indeed the slowest growing of all U.S. airlines, expanding ASM capacity just 2% last year. But in another sense, the airport’s slow growth doesn’t make sense: Dallas-Fort Worth has for many years been one of the country’s fastest growing metro area populations and economies.

Is the airport finally ready to grow at a pace commensurate with its region’s demographic boom?

The signs are good. As mentioned, scheduled seat capacity from DFW for the April-to-June quarter is up by double digits y/y—10%, to be precise, according to Diio Mi schedule data. For the peak third quarter, seats are due to increase 13%. The only other major U.S. airport showing even close to that level of expansion is Denver, where United, Frontier and Spirit are adding lots of service, and Orlando, an expansion focus for Spirit, Frontier and foreign carriers like Gol, Swoop and El Al.

DFW’s growth story involves some ultra-LCC expansion.

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