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September 16, 2013

DFW Airport CEO reflects on 20 years in the top job

On Jeff Fegan’s first day as chief executive of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, he received a plaque from his staff that said “Create and Share the Vision. Set the Course. Get the Hell out of the Way. — Your Loyal Staff.”

After 19 years of leading the airport through major events including the aftermath of 9-11, major recessions, the construction of a new international terminal and uncertainty surrounding the American Airlines bankruptcy, Fegan is getting out of the way.

The plaque, like many other items in his office at the airport’s headquarters building, has been placed in a box as Fegan, 59, prepares to retire in October.

“This place is too complicated for one person to control all aspects of the business. I had to be a leader of leaders,” Fegan said, fondly remembering his first-day gift. “That’s what the message was and it was something I embraced as my management style.”

During his tenure, the airport opened its concessions to multiple vendors, built a centralized rental car facility, and installed the SkyLink people-mover system. He has grown the airport’s revenues from about $200 million to $650 million annually, doubled the number of international destinations to 50 and grown the number domestic destinations from 113 to 148.

And although Fegan leaves the eighth busiest airport in the world on solid financial ground, his retirement comes as the airport is in the middle of a $2.3 billion terminal renovation program that is facing possible cost overruns of $220 million and uncertainty over the future of the airport’s largest tenant, American Airlines.

Fegan had initially planned to retire by Sept. 1, but his successor, Virgin Australia chief operating officer Sean Donohue, won’t be able to start until next month. In the meantime, Fegan is staying around a few more weeks to make the transition to Donohue as seamless as possible for the airport board and staff.

“Your mind and body need to have a break every once in a while, and I think this is the time to go,” Fegan said. “I could have stayed much longer but I think, personally, it was the right time.”

To read the full article that appeared in Saturday's Star-Telegram click here.


-Andrea Ahles



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