DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Officials with Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport were busy Wednesday pitching next year’s proposed $660 million spending plan during a Dallas City Council briefing session, this despite the looming uncertainty surrounding the American Airlines bankruptcy.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings admitted the bankruptcy proceedings are intricate but urged continuing support for the air carrier.
“American Airlines bankruptcy process is a difficult [one]… it’s a challenging time for them,” Rawlings said. “We have tried to support them in everything that we can do. They are the cornerstone of this airport from a partnership standpoint.”
DFW Airport Board CEO Jeff Fegan reminded the council that American Airlines is still operating and continues to pay its debts on time.
“American has assumed all of their leases [and] they also have paid back all of their prepetition debt, which was about $11 million,” he said. “So we are in very, very good shape with American Airlines.”
Airport supporters stood firm in their request for funding and even said they expect American to expand in the future and eventually bring direct service to and from China, a country the airport has been courting for years.
“We are hopeful that after next year, after American emerges from bankruptcy, as they get new airplanes delivered, as the 787 airplane becomes kind of a mainstream airplane, that China will open up,” Fegan said.
Mayor Rawlings didn’t dismiss the other carriers at DFW Airport, but said the needs and impact of the biggest renter cannot be overlooked.
““Obviously we’re growing to a place where we’re not just gonna be an ‘American place.’ I mean we’ve got a lot more airlines coming in. We’re gonna be more diversified, but for all that growth… our ups and downs are gonna be with American Airlines.”
The full Dallas City Council will vote on the proposed airport budget during Thursday’s meeting.