DFW Airport has propelled itself to the top spot for the most nonstop flights in the country.
The new ranking comes as the pandemic caused many airports to cancel fights and airports in major cities to pause their international flights due to business travel continuing to see a slow recovery.
Carriers at DFW Airport are traveling to 239 destinations, beating out longtime leader Chicago O’Hare, which now has flights going to 232 destinations. Most of the flights from DFW are with American Airlines, which services 220 destinations alone.
Dallas’ smaller airport, Dallas Love Field, a hub for Southwest Airlines, has 67 nonstop routes flying to locations within the United States.
DFW airport’s rise is mainly due to the pandemic and increased foot traffic, along with other major airports that rely on business travel like O’Hare, LAX, and New York’s JFK Airports, cutting international flights.
“The leisure markets have recovered at a far more rapid pace than those that have a stronger tendency toward business travel,” Jim Bennett, former director for airports in Washington, D.C., and Phoenix, told The Dallas Morning News. “People have been willing to get out and travel, but companies are a little bit more cautious about putting their employees back on the road.”
DFW Airport is one of only two airlines to add nonstop flights to its roster since the pandemic; the other is Denver International Airport. Atlanta, O’Hare, LAX, and JFK have all lost connections.
DFW has the most nonstop flights in the country, with 188, followed by O’Hare with 174 and Atlanta with 149.
American Airlines connected most passengers to flights via DFW during the pandemic, mainly because it was cheaper. According to data from the FAA, airlines paid $15.63 per passenger to DFW in landing fees, gate rentals, and other costs in 2021. That’s less than half of what it costs per passenger to fly into Los Angeles, Chicago O’Hare, or JFK.
“We operate a connection factory here in DFW,” said Brian Znotins, American’s vice president for network and schedule planning.
At airports like Chicago O’Hare, there is competition from American Airlines and Chicago-based United, and Southwest Airlines is a significant player at nearby Chicago Midway. At DFW, American Airlines has the field to itself.
DFW airport still lags behind with international flights, only operating 51 international destinations. Of those flights, 18 go to Mexico. JFK is running 108 international flights despite the drop in business travel.
Earlier this month, several pilots for American Airlines hit the picket line, demanding better scheduling. The Dallas Express reported that the Fort Worth-based airline was in negotiations and was committed to coming to a compromise with pilots.