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DFW Airport Marks 50th Anniversary with Year-Long Celebration

On January 13, 1974, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) embarked on its journey as the newest and most modern commercial airport in the United States. In celebration of its 50th anniversary, DFW will kick off a year-long series of events to recognize its achievements, express gratitude to the community, and set the stage for the future.  The celebration begins on Saturday, January 13, 2024.  

“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.”

Weekend Celebrations and Activities

DFW's 50th-anniversary celebrations kick off with various activities throughout the weekend:

  • Saturday morning: Travelers can enjoy unique giveaways, selfie stations, and a surprise performance in select terminals. Airport customer experience teams will debut 50th-anniversary-themed uniforms.
  • Saturday night: Dallas and Fort Worth skylines will illuminate in DFW's primary brand color, orange, to commemorate the golden anniversary.
  • Sunday: Advertisements in local newspapers express gratitude to the community for 50 years of support.
  • 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. 

Special Offers for Travelers

DFW extends its appreciation to customers by offering special parking discounts for online bookings made between January 12-25 for travel through March 1, 2024. Use offer code DFW50 at checkout to save at least 50% off the drive-up rate.

Looking Back and Ahead

DFW Airport Airtrans 1974

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.

Economic Impact and Milestones


DFW's economic impact includes an annual payroll of $38 billion, supporting over 634,000 jobs. The airport and its visitors generate $24 billion in economic activity annually, contributing billions in state and local taxes. Over the years, DFW has witnessed historic moments, including hosting the supersonic Concorde in 1973 and the first visit by a NASA space shuttle in 1989.

Then and Now



World’s largest airport by land area

Third largest airport by land area

Four terminals

Five terminals (sixth to break ground in 2024)

Three runways

Seven runways

66 gates

171 gates

Nine airlines

28 airlines

6.8 million passengers

80 million passengers (estimated)

75,000 tons of cargo

791,192 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

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