Old Oct 27, 05, 9:45 pm
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tismfu
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Dallas/Orlando
Programs: AA EXP
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Post Press: American moves to D/FW's Terminal D

American moves to D/FW's Terminal D
07:34 PM CDT on Thursday, October 27, 2005
By SUZANNE MARTA / The Dallas Morning


Excerpts:
Tom Green hopes to spend Saturday morning in Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport's new Terminal D, reading the newspaper and sipping coffee.

That is, as long as everything goes as planned.

Mr. Green, American's project manager for the move to the international terminal, started working on the plans two years ago, coordinating departments and working contingency plans for every last detail.

After 6 a.m., American Airlines Inc. will welcome its first overseas passengers to the facility. Flights from Buenos Aires, Argentina; Sao Paulo, Brazil and Santiago, Chile, all arrive within 17 minutes of each other.

Although D/FW's massive 2.1 million-square-foot international terminal opened in July, so far it has been dealing only with the airport's foreign airlines.

American's arrival marks the launch of full-scale operations.

For the past three months, Terminal D has handled about 20 flights per day. This weekend, American plans to start with 78 daily flights of its own, growing in the next few months to 115.

By far D/FW's largest carrier, American accounts for 84 percent of the airport's passenger traffic. At Terminal D, the carrier and its regional affiliate, American Eagle, will occupy 19 of the 28 gates.

"It's been a long time coming," said Jeff Fegan, D/FW's chief executive. "Come Saturday, international passengers will have a tremendous experience."

For the last several weeks, American staffers have been sweating the details.

A keyboard near one of the bag system controls has an "S" that doesn't work. A sign for the airline lounge says Admiral's Club, instead of Admirals Club. Gatehouse crew areas have soap, but no dispenser, a design error.

American's move into the $1.7 billion Terminal D consolidating under one roof all international flights and customs operations is no easy task.

Moving day
Much of the move is scheduled for Friday.

Around 2 p.m., when the first shifts end, American crews will begin loading the moving trucks with files and other office equipment.

Five hours later, 581 pieces of ground equipment used in the airline's international operations tugs to pull luggage carts, loaders and hydraulic lifts will begin the slow crawl across the airport, as gates at the other terminals serving international flights start to shut down.

Some planes will also move over to Terminal D after they discharge their passengers elsewhere at the airport.

Saturdays are the airline's lightest operational days, but everything will have to be in place to handle the initial crush of the three flights arriving from South America.

"We'll know pretty quick how things are going," Mr. Green said. "Our goal is that customers don't know it's our first day."

[...]

'Basically ready'
At the new Terminal D Admirals Club, Kevin Kendrew and Bill Stigliano zipped through the 21,000 square-feet club with a daily checklist to see that every detail is in place. After flushing each toilet to be certain they're in working order, Mr. Kendrew nearly jumped as a stall door slammed shut with a thunderous clap.

"Oh that's far too loud," he said, inspecting the felt padding that lines the door, and jotting down a note to get the door spring adjusted.

Mr. Kendrew and his crew have already hosted a handful of events at the club for key clients to get a sneak peek.

"We're basically ready," he said.

[...]

The main reason for the three-month delay in starting operations was necessary tweaking of the terminal's baggage-handling system.

Given the complexity of the nearly six-mile labyrinth of automated belts, airline officials said they wanted everything to be just right before American's expected 30,000 bags a day were processed there.

Some changes, like taking non-American flights off the flight information monitors in the carrier's bag sorting area, may seem minor but can make a big difference.

"Our guys could get confused if there were two flights to Chicago or something," Mr. Green said.

Despite the myriad things that still need attention, everything is pretty much on track.

"We don't see any showstoppers out there right now," said Paul Pemberton, American's manager of ramp services, as he led Mr. Green through each station, pointing out adjustments that have been made and what's left to do. "We're looking pretty good."
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