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December 30, 2013

No. 2 DFW Airport CEO Fegan retires, replaced by Virgin Australia executive Donohue

JETBLUE_AT_DFW_23_23674315After 19 years of leading Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, chief executive Jeff Fegan decided it was time to pack his bags and leave on a jet plane.

Fegan retired as the head of the airport in October after successfully building the airport into the third-largest in the U.S. with over 50 international destinations and almost 150 domestic destinations.

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 grew the airport's revenues from about $200 million to $650 million annually and overseen the $2.3 billion terminal renovation program which continues until 2018.

He also navigated the difficult political tensions between the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth during the Wright Amendment talks. The airport had opposed lifting the restrictions for years but agreed to a compromise in 2006 that allowed for most of the flight restrictions on neighboring airport, Dallas Love Field, to be lifted in 2014.

Fegan, who turned 59 this year, had announced his retirement in January and stayed on through October while the airport searched for his replacement.

"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 in an interview in August. "I could have stayed much longer but I think, personally, it was the right time."

DFW Airport CEO Sean Donohue first interview 5The airport chose Virgin Australia executive Sean Donohue to replace Fegan instead of two internal candidates. Donohue faces potential cost overruns in the terminal redevelopment project but now has some stability with the airport's largest tenant, American Airlines, which completed its merger with US Airways in December.

Donohue has presided over two airport board meetings since he started his job and hasn't made any significant changes at the airport.

"I'm not coming in here to be a change agent. It's been very stable. It's been successful. I view it as a new set of eyes," Donohue said in an interview in October. "I'm a really, really strong believer in the customer experience. And having been part of the Virgin brand for the last three years, I've learned a lot on just how critical it is to put the customer first and ensure their experience is as good as it can be, so that would be my focus."

-Andrea Ahles


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