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American opens new gates at Dallas/Fort Worth

American Airlines begins operations from 15 new gates at Dallas/Fort Worth International airport today, as part of a push to add capacity at one of its most profitable hubs.

The additional gates will be used by the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier's wholly-owned regional carrier Envoy and support more than 100 new flights from the North Texas hub, American says. The flight additions are part of an initiative to boost daily operations at the airport to an average of 900 flights a day, aptly nicknamed "DFW 900".

“By adding 100 flights to our most profitable hub, we have the opportunity to connect more people to more destinations than ever before," says Vasu Raja, vice-president of network and schedule planning at American, in a statement.

The DFW hub produces margins roughly twice the system average, American executives said earlier this year.

Many of the new flights are frequency additions on existing routes, but the airline will add 23 new routes from the airport by the third quarter that it did not fly last year, Cirium schedules data shows. These include long-haul additions like Dublin and Munich, as well as numerous regional-aircraft routes to places like Augusta, Bakersfield and Del Rio.

Cowen analyst Helane Becker has called the expansion "easy growth", as it builds on American's existing economies of scale at DFW.

The growth at DFW makes up roughly two-thirds of American's planned 2.5% system capacity growth in 2019. It is not impacted by either the Boeing 737 Max grounding, which is expected to cost the carrier $350 million in full-year pre-tax earnings, or Airbus A321neo delivery delays.

Envoy will operate 50-seat or smaller regional jets from the new gates at DFW. At the same time, nine regional gates in terminal B are being converted to six mainline gates due to open in June to further support the DFW 900 initiative.

American invested $20 million in renovating the terminal E satellite, which was built in the late 1980s to support the former Delta Air Lines hub at DFW, under an agreement reached in April 2018. The airline will have preferred use of roughly 131 gates at the airport, including the satellite as well as the changes planned in terminal B.

The carrier laid out plans to grow at Charlotte, DFW and Washington National – its three most profitable hubs according to executives – in mid-2018. DFW is the focus this year, Charlotte in 2020 and Washington in 2021. The plans are supported by terminal expansions at each airport, for example the $1 billion programme to expand the secure area and build a new regional concourse at Washington National.

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