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DFW Moments: Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - When Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport opened in 1974, it shaped the North Texas landscape and changed how we travel.

The airport also brought the cities of Fort Worth and Dallas together like never before.

It's bigger than the island of Manhattan, with 1,900 flights a day to and from 220 destinations.

DFW Airport ranks fourth in the world in operations, and number one in the world in customer experience.

"One of our key priorities is the customer experience," said Sean Donohue, CEO of DFW International Airport. "We have to be ahead of the growth of the region."

Fly back half a century in time, you'll see the founders of DFW Airport had lofty ambitions.

In the mid 20th century, Love Field was out of room to grow.

North Texas needed a bigger airport to serve both Dallas and Fort Worth.

Former Dallas Mayor Wes Wise says the two cities were a little competitive back then.

"This was an example of Dallas and Fort Worth progressing. We were going to make it one of the best and finest airports in the world, and that's exactly what has happened," said Mayor Wise.

The new airport was built right in the middle - approximately 17 miles from each city center.

The semicircular terminal layout was designed with traveler convenience in mind.

Mayor Wise recalls an anecdotal moment on the day of the first flight's arrival on January 13, 1974: American Airlines Flight 341, from Little Rock.

"Fort Worth had arranged, very carefully, to see to it that the first person who got off the first arrival at DFW Airport would be from Fort Worth! We at Dallas never thought of that!" Mayor Wise remembers.

From 10 million travelers in year one to 66 million in 2017, DFW's growth mirrors North Texas.

"Probably by the end of the next decade we will serve 100 million customers a year. With those projections we'd overtake O'Hare Airport (Chicago)," said Donohue.

The International Terminal D that opened in 2005 may not be the last expansion.

"We're in discussions with the airlines about a new terminal, and we're also at the same time investing in our current facilities," Donohue says.

DFW's CEO says they're moving forward with a clean footprint - this the only carbon neutral airport in the U.S.; 100 percent of the energy produced is wind generated.

At 89 years old, Mayor Wise says he isn't jet-setting as much as he did in the early days of DFW Airport, but he's proud of the journey it took to get here.

"Frankly, I think we've succeeded over the years beyond our expectations," said Wise.


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