'wrong' Amendment Back In The News

swflyer

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Including an AMAZING change of stance from Kay Bailey Hutchison :D


Airline sets course for repeal of Wright
Southwest chief ends neutrality; others hail law protecting D/FW


10:33 PM CST on Friday, November 12, 2004
By ERIC TORBENSON, SUZANNE MARTA and VIKAS BAJAJ / The Dallas Morning News

For Southwest Airlines, the Wright amendment is now officially the wrong amendment.

On Friday, the carrier's chief executive attacked the restrictions that keep Southwest from flying beyond Texas and seven nearby states from Dallas Love Field.

"It is anti-competitive," said Southwest chief executive Gary Kelly, speaking to a breakfast of business executives.

The facility it was designed to protect, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, no longer needs the law because it has become a powerful "fortress hub" for American Airlines, he said.

Within hours, Mr. Kelly's remarks stirred up a maelstrom of dissent from American, D/FW Airport, the cities of Fort Worth and Dallas and some area legislators.

"The Wright amendment made sense when it was passed and it makes sense now," Fort Worth-based American said in a prepared statement.

Kevin Cox, D/FW Airport's chief operating officer, said a repeal "would be detrimental, not only to this airport, but to the entire North Texas economy."

D/FW has recently taken on $2.7 billion in debt to finance its expansion, Mr. Cox noted, and it's losing its Delta Air Lines hub in January.

Still, the lure of cheaper, long-haul flights from Love Field holds a strong appeal to consumers and officials in some other states.

"I'd fly more often if ticket prices were lower," said Daniel Vammen, a sophomore at Texas Christian University, who was chagrined he had to pay $357 to fly between Nashville and D/FW.

And some area legislators said they welcomed a discussion about whether the Wright amendment had outlived its usefulness.

"Maybe it is time to do away with the Wright amendment," said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. "I think it's definitely time to look at the financial picture at D/FW. ... I would love to see the convenience of it if they can open Love Field."

Dallas-based Southwest, the nation's largest discount airline, has for years professed "passionate neutrality" over the highly charged regional issue.

But now, Mr. Kelly said, Southwest wants to expand its schedule from the Dallas area. And after some study, the carrier says it is ruling out launching new long-haul service at D/FW.

"I am now not saying we are passionately neutral about it -- that is off the table," Mr. Kelly told the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce. He declined to say what Southwest would do about its new stance.

Political experts and industry observers said that only Congress can change the status quo.

Named after former U.S. House of Representatives speaker Jim Wright, the 1979 law was a compromise between Dallas, Fort Worth and the airlines to foster the growth of a then-fledgling D/FW Airport.

Over the years, the Wright amendment has survived numerous legal and political challenges, most recently when now-defunct Legend Airlines sought to begin long-haul service from Love Field in the late 1990s.

But this latest battle could turn out differently because Southwest can muster a much more effective political coalition, observers say.

"They are one of the few profitable airlines, so they have a lot of credibility," said Martin Rose, a Dallas lawyer who has represented airlines in past Wright disputes.

Financially, Southwest is the strongest airline in the industry, thanks to its low-cost business model.

The biggest beneficiary of the Wright amendment, American, is the world's largest carrier. But it's been losing money, struggling to adapt to a landscape increasingly shaped by discounters.

Experts said congressional leaders often look to a state's delegation for guidance when crafting legislation on local issues.

But they said proposals to change the Wright amendment would divide the region's lawmakers.

"The timing on this is really bad," said Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth.

Ms. Granger, a former D/FW Airport board member, said D/FW is under stress because of the recent decision by Delta Air Lines to close its Dallas hub in January.

U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, said he sees no reason to change the Wright amendment. "The current system remains a very workable one," he said.

But U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, said he's willing to reconsider the Love Field issue.

Sen. John Cornyn declined to comment. A spokesman said the senator needed to study the issue.

Dallas Mayor Laura Miller said in an interview Thursday that the "Wright amendment is a sacred cow that's not going away anytime soon." A spokesman said Friday the mayor felt no differently after Mr. Kelly's remarks.

The city of Fort Worth reiterated its support of the amendment.

"Strong competition for more than regional activity out of Love Field could be detrimental to D/FW Airport," said Fort Worth City Manager Charles Boswell.

D/FW's Mr. Cox said the airport would do all it could to defeat changes to the Wright amendment.

Mr. Cox said the Wright amendment doesn't hurt airfare competition.

"If everyone wants low-cost service and competition, then let's have it at the airport that everyone agreed to," Mr. Cox said. "Competition between airports won't get you lower cost service; competition among airlines will."

Still, a repeal effort could get support from cities that Southwest serves or those that are interested in attracting the low-cost leader, said Ed Faberman, executive director of the Air Carriers Association, a Washington-based trade group that represents smaller airlines.

"Members of Congress are hearing a little more from constituents who are raising the importance of being able to obtain that kind of service," he said. "It's not only an issue for Dallas."

In September, the congressional delegation from Tennessee proposed allowing service between Love Field and that state, initiating the current debate.

Some economists have long maintained that a repeal of the Wright amendment would cause transitional but not long-term pain for D/FW.

"The bottom line is that more people are going to be flying," said Ray Perryman, a Waco-based economist, adding that D/FW would always be the dominant airport.

"I don't see any threat to D/FW if the Wright amendment went away. Love Field doesn't have the infrastructure, and it doesn't have the space to build the infrastructure."

Staff writers Robert Dodge in Washington and Tony Hartzel in Dallas contributed to this report.
 

jimntx

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if SWA succeeds at getting the WA repealed, I bet the city of Dallas is going to see the need for some MAJOR street repair work along Mockingbird, Lemmon, and Cedar Springs for a long time. :lol: (See Dallas mayor, Laura Miller's comments in article.)
 

Kev3188

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Right in the middle.
swflyer said:
"I'd fly more often if ticket prices were lower," said Daniel Vammen, a sophomore at Texas Christian University, who was chagrined he had to pay $357 to fly between Nashville and D/FW.
[post="201203"][/post]​

Well, in the meantime Sparky, feel free to get in your car and explore our nation's wonderful freeway system.
 

JS

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This is ridiculous. In just a couple of months, Terminal E will have so many available gates that if all of them were used by Southwest, DFW would be Southwest's largest airport. DFW is not full!!!

If the Wright Amendment is repealed, I hope AA floods Love Field with flights, just to demonstrate why DFW exists today.

Doesn't anyone remember what happened when Bill Clinton signed legislation removing all slot restrictions on regional aircraft flying out of LGA?

Herb was no fool. He knew that Southwest had struck gold, flying out of a convenient and uncrowded airport that was slated to be an ice skating rink.
 

sfb

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I don't read Laura Miller's quote as being in favor of or against the Wright Amendment. I think it's just an observation that there are a lot of folks with vested interests in the Wright Amendment remaining in place; specifically, AMR Corporation and their lap dog, the City of Fort Worth. Expansion at DAL is generally good for the City of Dallas given the number of jobs that would be created in the city. Southwest Airlines is one of the largest employers in the city, after all.

I have to say I'm shocked to see Kay Bailey Hutchison change her stance, too, but then, maybe AMR isn't paying her husband as much as they used to. :lol:

AA has gates at DAL and are free to flood Love Field today. They could even set up a big RJ operation there if they wanted to. I don't think it's in their best interests to get into a war with Southwest, though, given that WN has deeper pockets and a significantly lower cost structure. SWA already kicked their butts on DAL-AUS back in 1999-2000.

Southwest's long-haul flying from HOU hasn't killed IAH, and expanded service at DAL won't kill DFW.
 

ramper_in_las

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Kev3188 said:
Well, in the meantime Sparky, feel free to get in your car and explore our nation's wonderful freeway system.
[post="201214"][/post]​

why would you want to do that with the gas prices the way they are? Its cheaper to fly southwest.... :up:
 
OP
swflyer

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If anyone knows the "mystery airline" who wanted a hub at DFW, please step forward. <_<

D/FW accuses Southwest of 'chill'
Airline says new stance on Love Field won't thwart discounters


11:30 PM CST on Wednesday, November 17, 2004
By ERIC TORBENSON and SUZANNE MARTA / The Dallas Morning News

Southwest Airlines Co.'s unexpected shift against the Wright amendment has hurt Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport's ability to attract low-cost competition, airport executives said Wednesday.

One discounter lost interest in taking gates at D/FW because Southwest "created a cloud" of uncertainty by advocating long-haul flights from Dallas Love Field, said Kevin Cox, chief operating officer for D/FW.

The carrier, which airport officials declined to identify, changed its mind just hours after Southwest changed its stance, the airport said.

"Southwest didn't even have to repeal the Wright amendment to chill the opportunity for a low-cost carrier to come to D/FW," Mr. Cox said.

Southwest chief executive Gary Kelly rejected the suggestion that the Dallas-based discounter's new stance keeps low-fare competition from moving to D/FW. "These are attacks, not arguments," he said.

Mr. Kelly stunned the state's political and aviation communities last Friday when he announced Southwest has dropped its 25-year-old neutrality toward the Wright amendment.

The law limits flying from Love Field to four states adjoining Texas. Southwest can also fly to three other states because of the Shelby amendment, but it flies to only one of those states directly from Love Field.

Based on the huge response his public comments have received over the past few days, Mr. Kelly said Wednesday, the odds of the law being repealed appear good.

Mr. Kelly said his office has received calls of support from other states and airports. He declined to name them.

Some in the North Texas congressional delegation have called for further study on the issue, but none have endorsed modifying or repealing the federal flight restrictions.

Southwest officials have said they began rethinking their position on the Wright amendment in September, after Delta Air Lines Inc. announced plans to abandon its hub at D/FW.

The Delta move sent D/FW officials scrambling to find ways to fill the 24 gates that the Atlanta-based carrier will be idling. At the same time, Southwest saw a void in the North Texas travel market to be filled.

Southwest considered flying from D/FW.

"They admitted to us in no uncertain terms that, despite the rhetoric, D/FW is not an operational constraint to them making money out of here [and] that they can compete with American Airlines," Mr. Cox said.

But Southwest executives decided instead to expand at Love Field through long-haul flights.

D/FW executives said the latest hand-wringing over the Wright amendment couldn't have come at a worse time.

The nation's third-busiest airport has borrowed more than $3 billion to create a new international terminal and other improvements, debt that will nearly double the per-passenger costs at D/FW by 2009.

Delta's planned pullback exacerbates D/FW's problems, airport officials said, as landing fees, concessions and rent drop by $35 million through next September.

Now their concern is that Love Field may siphon traffic away from D/FW, worsening its financial picture.

"Southwest will keep its monopoly at Love Field, despite its prior agreement," Mr. Cox said. "American will keep its monopoly out here, and the likelihood of us getting more low-cost service is not great."

Tim Wagner, a spokesman for American, said: "We obviously have a huge investment in D/FW, and we're monitoring the situation closely."

Delta's departure will open 24 gates, and Mr. Cox said he targeted three carriers to fill them, including Southwest.

D/FW had strong interest from a carrier "that wanted them all" to start a hub here to compete against American, Mr. Cox said.

That carrier "called back and said, 'I don't think so. Why would I do that if I have all these other opportunities and I have this veil of uncertainty that Southwest may chew my flank up?' " he said.

"This is all just a ploy by Southwest," Mr. Cox said. "They took the most divisive, caustic approach they could because they knew they didn't have to win the battle over the Wright amendment to win the low-cost war."

Mr. Kelly agreed that Southwest could be profitable at D/FW, but he said it would face much higher risks moving operations to the sprawling airport than expanding existing facilities at Love Field.

"As a distant second to American Airlines, we would be in a position of building an operation over a long time before we could be successful," Mr. Kelly said.

Operating at both airports "makes no sense," Mr. Kelly said. "It would totally confuse the marketplace."

As for Mr. Cox's suggestion that Southwest was deliberately creating uncertainty to fend off rivals interested in D/FW, Mr. Kelly called the idea "outrageous."

Mr. Kelly said Southwest operations in other markets haven't kept out competitors. "I don't see why Dallas is unique," he said.

Both American Airlines Inc. and D/FW insist Southwest has to honor the Wright amendment because "a deal is a deal."

But Mr. Kelly said, "We didn't sign anything. There's no agreement. It's a federal law."

D/FW officials also said they're concerned that if Southwest expands at Love Field, American would reopen its three idled gates at the city airport and shift some service there.

Mr. Cox contended that Southwest owes its success – indeed, its 33-year survival – to the Wright amendment.

"The reason they are the carrier they are today is because of the Wright amendment" and its creation of a niche that allowed Southwest to flourish, he said.

Ginger Hardage, Southwest's vice president for corporate communications, disagreed.

"Southwest has been successful in spite of the Wright amendment," she said. "We've grown in spite of it by taking our growth to other areas. We have a desire to continue to grow in Dallas, and we want to do it at Dallas Love Field."

Mr. Kelly said Southwest has rights to an additional seven Love Field gates along with its current 14 gates. With 138 gates, D/FW wouldn't be threatened by a Southwest expansion, he said.

Expanding operations at Chicago's Midway Airport and at Philadelphia are both bigger priorities than Dallas for Southwest, Mr. Kelly said, "but we can multi-task."
 

JS

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Operating at both airports "makes no sense," Mr. Kelly said. "It would totally confuse the marketplace."

Really? Do people get confused flying to OAK or SJC, or flying to LAX/BUR/ONT/SNA, or FLL/PBI? Come on, give your passengers some credit.
 
OP
swflyer

swflyer

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JS said:
Really? Do people get confused flying to OAK or SJC, or flying to LAX/BUR/ONT/SNA, or FLL/PBI? Come on, give your passengers some credit.
[post="202078"][/post]​

Actually, the answer is, "yes, all the time (especially the CA markets)." I've personally worked flights from SEA, continuing on to LAX, and had folks connecting to BUR or ONT trying to stay on the plane.

Of course, this isn't always the case, but for the example of Dallas, SWA has ALWAYS been associated with Love Field. For the Dallas example, serving DFW would initially dilute our marketing in the area. Customers want easy and certain, not "oh God, which airport am I flying to/from??".

IMHO
 

KALB2

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My, how the folks from DFW whine, whine, whine! Delta leaves and WN rears its LCC head, and DFW cries, "Protect me with your anti-competitive federal legislation". Perhaps the DFW administration should put their energies into agressively recruiting one of the other LCCs (JetBlue, Airtran, Spirit, Independence).

I fail to see how other large metropolitan areas can successfully support two or more commercial service airports and the Metroplex cannot. :down:
 

JS

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KALB2 said:
My, how the folks from DFW whine, whine, whine! Delta leaves and WN rears its LCC head, and DFW cries, "Protect me with your anti-competitive federal legislation". Perhaps the DFW administration should put their energies into agressively recruiting one of the other LCCs (JetBlue, Airtran, Spirit, Independence).

They were until Southwest suddenly changed their stance. Who would set up a hub operation in Terminal E if Southwest can fly to the same places from Love Field? Besides the fact that some people prefer to fly out of Love Field, the bigger problem is that if you already have AA and WN flying to places like Los Angeles or Chicago, there's not much room left for (AirTran, JetBlue, whatever) to fly to those same places from Terminal E.

We're all aware of the industry's overcapacity problem, and opening up Love Field will just make that worse for anyone attempting to replace Delta at DFW.

I fail to see how other large metropolitan areas can successfully support two or more commercial service airports and the Metroplex cannot. :down:
[post="202264"][/post]​

There are also large metropolitan areas that have just one airport with commercial service -- Denver, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Seattle, Las Vegas, Phoenix.
 
OP
swflyer

swflyer

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JS said:
There are also large metropolitan areas that have just one airport with commercial service -- Denver, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Seattle, Las Vegas, Phoenix.
[post="202290"][/post]​

Interesting choices.

Denver- ground up Stapleton to avoid a two airport operation
COS used by WestPac as a DEN alternative

Atlanta- Delta keeps Brown Field off limits thru politicians (too small??)
Marietta is still military??

Minneapolis- St. Paul downtown airport (too small??)

Seattle- Boeing Field was considered when SeaTac wasn't playing ball w/SWA.

Las Vegas- some low fare carriers, including Morris, serve(d) Laughlin

Phoenix- Williams Gateway airport is attempting to gain commercial service.

And lets not forget, there a still two other DFW area airports that have previously asked for Southwest service, Meacham and Alliance.

IMHO, it's still a weak argument to say that DFW couldn't survive the repeal of the Wright Amendment.
 

hobbes

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"Southwest will keep its monopoly at Love Field, despite its prior agreement," Mr. Cox said. "American will keep its monopoly out here, and the likelihood of us getting more low-cost service is not great."

Ohhh...so the Wright Amendment was an "agreement" now, huh? That's the funniest thing I've ever read. Throughout this whole article, Mr. Cox whines like a spanked puppy.

To say that there was an "agreement" is a joke. That's like saying you "agree" to let the school bully steal your lunch money. Southwest didn't have much of a choice in the matter. The airlines that flew out of DFW had Wright in their back pocket, and if Southwest had fought the matter, we would have been brought to our knees in terms of legal costs. And let's remember that Braniff and TI had already done a good job of putting Southwest through trivial court battle after trivial court battle in the years prior. Southwest accepted the Wright Amendment because they really had no choice.

Doesn't CAL have their hub out of Houston Intercontinental? Seems to me that they've survived and co-existed quite nicely with Southwest flying out of Houston Hobby.
 

ELP_WN_Psgr

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I never thought I would see the day that the mighty Metroplexus......the Dallas of Neiman-Marcus, H.L. Hunt, R.L. Stemmons, Earl Cabell, and the Texas Schoolbook Suppository.........the Dallas of Murchison, the Apparel Mart, and the flying red horse....would tuck it's tail between it's legs and admit it that Houston was more cosmopolitan.

But that's what they have done.

Houston runs two airports on opposite sides of town without a lick of trouble.

But nooooooooo......Dallas is not a big enough, bad enough town to support two major airports.

Hey, Dallas...listen up: If you don't think you are big enough or bad enough to play in the big leagues (with multiple airports) maybe its time to quit trying to recruit conventions and sporting events and businesses.

Maybe the next go-round, instead of seeing "Who Shot J.R." in "Dallas" we'll be watching Aunt Bea fix Andy a pie in "Dallas RFD."

Might as well start calling the big airport out in between Dallas and Fort Worth "FWD" or maybe the "Amon Carter International Airport."

With this sort of attitude, how long will it be before we start judging how big a place Dallas is by the number of Dairy Queens it has?
 
OP
swflyer

swflyer

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Everyone's ducking for cover. Interesting that the Congressional delegates are receiving opinion letters from the mayors, on DFW Letterhead!!!!!!
(Hi! Please sign this or you'll be the first people we sue. Thanks!)


Dallas, FW mayors chime in on Wright amendment
Keep Love Field limits in place, they tell Texans in Congress


11:06 PM CST on Friday, November 19, 2004
By SUZANNE MARTA / The Dallas Morning News

The mayors of Dallas and Fort Worth are sending letters to the Texas congressional delegation, expressing concern over attempts to change the Wright amendment.

The letters, drafted by Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport officials and printed on airport letterhead, reflect the view that Southwest Airlines Co. was a party to the agreement restricting flights from Dallas Love Field.

"A deal is a deal, and it is our belief that Southwest should continue to operate within the limits of the deal to which it agreed," says the letter, signed by mayors Laura Miller of Dallas and Mike Moncrief of Fort Worth.

Southwest says that the law was imposed on it by Congress and that the Dallas-based discount carrier hopes to sway the opinions of lawmakers and local officials.

"It's a different day than it was 25 years ago, which is why we think there needs to be changes to the Wright amendment," said Southwest spokesman Ed Stewart.

The Wright amendment, which limits Love Field to short-haul flights, was written to protect a then-fledgling D/FW Airport.

Southwest began to reconsider its long-held neutral position on the restrictions after Delta Air Lines Inc. said in September that it plans to pull its D/FW hub, opening opportunities for other carriers to fill two dozen gates.

On Nov. 12, Southwest chief executive Gary Kelly said the airline didn't want to expand at D/FW but would like to start flying longer routes from Love Field.

"We don't think D/FW is a little airport that needs the protection of the Wright amendment anymore," Mr. Stewart said.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, received the mayors' letter on Friday. Similar letters are scheduled to be sent to the rest of the North Texas delegation on Monday, said D/FW spokesman Ken Capps.

In a statement Friday, Ms. Hutchison said, "No change should be made to the Wright amendment until we can be certain that there is no adverse impact to metroplex taxpayers."

She said that she would like to see an economic study on the potential effects now of repealing or amending the amendment.

"The loss of Delta flights, and the ability of D/FW to negotiate flights with additional low-cost carriers, should be factored into the study," Ms. Hutchison said.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who had previously indicated he was studying the issue, said Friday that his goal was for consumers to benefit from competition and choice.

"Since the implementation of the Wright amendment, many have made commitments and investments reliant upon the continued application of the law," Mr. Cornyn said in a statement.

"Those commitments must be measured while considering how best to attain this goal," he said.

Ms. Miller included a handwritten postscript in the letter to Ms. Hutchison.

"Like you, I want low airfares for our citizens," she wrote. "But the best way to accomplish that, in light of all the challenges going on at D/FW Airport right now, is get a low-cost carrier to come in strong at D/FW.

"As long as Southwest keeps threatening to repeal the Wright amendment, we won't get them."

In an interview Friday, Ms. Miller reiterated that competition between the airports wouldn't bring more discount air travel to North Texans.

"I don't think we get it from two major airlines going head-to-head at two airports," she said. "All the interest we had for those Delta gates has evaporated."

Ms. Miller suggested Southwest might be reacting in part to the possibility that the airline may have to tack on a $3 passenger facility charge to fund part of the $160 million light rail station under Love Field.

A vote on a Love Field station is scheduled next week.

Ms. Miller said she hadn't talked to Southwest executives about the issue, but she hoped to in the near future.

"I love Southwest Airlines and I'm so glad that they are here," she said.

But the current debate "couldn't have come at a worse time."
 

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