Port of Entry: Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (cargo)Economic Impact, 2015

Texas' location, geography and diverse economy offer unique trade opportunities with other states and countries. Texas has a number of ports of entry, including seaports, inland ports and border crossings, which facilitate the movement of imports and exports. Texas ports of entry contribute to the state and local economies, each in a distinctive way.

The state of Texas accounted for nearly $650 billion in international trade in 2015. Of Texas' total international trade, $71.1 billion or 11.3 percent arrived or departed by air through the state's air/multimodal ports, with Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) accounting for 76.7 percent of air/multimodal trade, or about $54.5 billion.1

Based on the Comptroller's analysis, the net benefit of trade associated with the DFW airport port of entry includes an estimated 135,500 net jobs to Texas and a minimum of $19.4 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) to the Texas economy.2 (The Comptroller acknowledges there may be other economic activities directly and indirectly associated with the use of this facility that may not be reflected here.)

The DFW "Air Port"

DFW airport, built between cities of Dallas and Fort Worth in 1974, at the time was the world's largest airport at more than 19,000 acres.3 Its location, with both U.S. coasts and all major U.S. cities being no more than four flight hours away, has made it a popular hub for passenger and cargo operations. DFW saw more than 64 million passengers use its terminals in 2015 (about 175,000 each day). With the airport offering extensive international passenger flights, multiple runways and around-the-clock service, DFW's cargo operations can make full use of the resources and efficiencies offered such as freight forwarding, export packing and cold storage facilities.4 Other features of DFW cargo operations include:5

  • seven runways with 24/7 operations;
  • more than 20 million square feet of cargo and warehouse facilities;
  • more than $850 million invested by developers in cargo/warehouse buildings;
  • over 1,215 acres for cargo/warehouse development;
  • streamlined service as a fully electronic airway bill (e-AWB)-compliant airport;
  • shipping connections to more than 150 destinations;
  • ramp parking for 11 Boeing 747-400 aircraft; and
  • General Purpose Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) #39 designation.

Economic Data

DFW shipping activity accounted for $54.5 billion in international trade in 2015, an increase of 116 percent from 2003 ($25.2 billion).6 In 2015, DFW ranked 11th in the nation and 40th in the world for air trade tonnage, handling more than 670,000 metric tons of freight. This represented a 13.2 percent increase from 2013 (591,639 metric tons).7

FTZ #39 is comprised of 2,400 acres of pre-designated land within DFW Airport's property. Off airport FTZ #39 covers a seven county, 6,237 square mile service area that includes 644 acres of pre-designated land in the city of Fort Worth. Overall, in 2015, companies within FTZ #39 employed 2,946 and received over $3.1 billion of goods, a 20 percent increase from 2014. FTZ #39 has free trade zone alliances with Dubai Airport Freezone Authority (UAE) and Farglory Free Trade Zone (Taiwan), expanding trade between the regions.8

DFW ranks first among Texas airports in three main operational categories (cargo tons, aircraft movements and passengers). DFW's passenger traffic ranks it fourth nationally and 10th in the world. In terms of aircraft movements, DFW ranks third nationally and third in the world. DFW's international cargo network services 20 major cargo hubs in North America, Europe and Asia.9

DFW Operations, 2013-2015
Year Cargo (Freight and Mail) in Metric Tons Aircraft Movements* Passengers**
2015 669,232 681,247 64,074,762
2014 634,997 679,820 63,554,402
2013 591,639 678,059 60,470,507

*Landing and takeoffs
**Arriving and departing passengers and direct transit passengers counted once
Source: Airports Council International

DFW was the first airport in the country to specifically design cargo space able to serve the Boeing 747-400 through two projects, the Trammell Crow Company's Air Cargo Centre III and the Air Freight & Logistics Centers 1, 2 and 3. 10

DFW's top three trading partners are China, South Korea and Japan, which account for almost 50 percent of all trade through the airport. The top trading nation, China, represented 29.6 percent of total trade in 2015.

  • Top origination/destination for goods: China
  • Top Imports through DFW: electronics; machinery
  • Top Exports through DFW: electronics; machinery; aircraft components
DFW Trade Value, 2013-2015
  Overall Trade ($ billions) Trade with China ($ billions)
Year Total Trade Exports (only) Imports (only) Total Trade Total Trade % Exports (only) Imports (only)
2015 $54.47 $20.87 $33.60 $16.13 29.61% $1.40 $14.72
2014 $55.22 $19.63 $35.58 $19.53 35.37% $1.33 $18.19
2013 $51.29 $17.54 $33.76 $18.63 36.31% $1.23 $17.40

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

DFW's international trade continues to grow. Recently, Qantas Freight began service to DFW with cargo stops in China and Australia, while Qatar Airways began using a dedicated Boeing 777F cargo plane, more than doubling its freight capacity to 1,000 metric tons per month.11 In addition, Air Canada Cargo has begun freighter service under "Fifth Freedom" rights, which allow carriers from one nation to operate scheduled revenue flights between two other countries, so the company can pick up cargo in Mexico and deliver it to DFW.12 And in December 2016, American Airlines Cargo expanded cargo service to Spain by taking advantage of space on its new Boeing 787-9 passenger service.13

Federal Customs District Growth

DFW is part of the larger Dallas-Fort Worth Customs District, which includes the area stretching from Tulsa, Oklahoma to San Antonio and from Lubbock to Dallas, capturing all trade activity in between. While being a significantly large area, the Dallas-Fort Worth region represents 93 percent of the total value of goods traded in the entire trade district. With $58.5 billion in trade, the district was the nation's 16th largest, by value, in 2015.14

Texas has 29 official ports of entry that serve as critical gateways to global trade. Each port, whether accessible via air, land or sea, serves a variety of domestic and international economic activity across multiple industries. The high quality of Texas' ports has a significant impact internationally as well as across the state from its largest cities to the most rural counties. Texas ports play an important role in the state's transportation network, as each directly contributes to and thus affects the entire transportation system. Texas ports contribute to the overall strength and diversity of Texas' economy which ranks 10th in GDP when compared to other nations.15