Jeff Fegan, longtime CEO of DFW Airport, to retire

Bernard Weinstein, an economist and associate director of SMU's Maguire Energy Institute, talks about the impressive record of current DFW airport CEO, Jeff Fegan, set to retire in September 2013.

By Andrea Ahles

After 19 years of watching planes land and take off and trying to ensure that millions of passengers had an enjoyable experience at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, Jeff Fegan announced Thursday that he plans to retire in September as the airport's chief executive.

Fegan, 58, has held the top position at DFW Airport since 1994 and guided it through the turmoil in the aviation industry following the 9-11 terrorist attacks. While some suggested that big projects be put on hold, Fegan boldly advocated that DFW continue with its construction of a new international terminal during an economic slowdown.

Terminal D opened in 2005 and the airport has since attracted several new foreign carriers.

"I felt now is the right time to pass the baton to the next generation of leaders," Fegan said as he announced his retirement to the DFW Airport board Thursday morning. "It's time to move forward."

Local leaders expressed mixed emotions on hearing of Fegan's decision to retire.

"We hate to see him go," said Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, who sits on the airport board. "He's been a great asset for the airport."

Fegan was first appointed DFW's CEO in February 1994. During his tenure, the airport has doubled the number of international destinations to 50 and increased annual revenues to $650 million, up from $212 million. He also oversaw a dozen capital improvement projects including runway extensions, the new Grand Hyatt Hotel, construction of a new rental car center and the introduction of the SkyLink people mover system.

Bud Weinstein, an economist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said Fegan has been able to successfully navigate the airport through many major changes including airline mergers and bankruptcies, the negotiations to end the Wright Amendment and security changes at U.S. airports. In 2005, Delta Air Lines announced it would close its hub operations at DFW, dropping the number of flights from over 200 to only a couple of dozen almost overnight.

"Against a backdrop of a lot of turmoil in the aviation industry, what we've seen under Jeff's watch is a steady hand of management and a lot of improvements at the airport, particularly Terminal D, which is one of the best terminals in the country," Weinstein said....

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