Golden Anniversary: DFW Airport marks 50 years of service 

DFW airfield, 1974, aerial view. Photo Courtesy DFW Media Department.

On Jan. 13, 1974, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) began operations as the newest and most modern commercial airport in the United States, heralding in a new chapter for modern aviation.     

Last Saturday, Jan. 13, DFW recognized its 50th anniversary by beginning a year-long celebration that reflects on the airport’s suc-cess, looks ahead to its exciting future and thanks the community for five decades of support. 

In 1974, DFW was the largest airport ever constructed in the U.S. and 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. Its central location allows  DFW customers to reach any major metropolitan area in North America within four hours. This has made DFW a critical piece of the expan-sive 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. Visitors to DFW and the surrounding region generate $24 billion in economic activity each year, resulting in more than $5 billion in state and local taxes. 

 “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,” concluded Donohue.