The Federal Aviation Administration is looking into whether the city of Dallas failed to ensure that Delta Air Lines can continue flying from Dallas Love Field (DAL/KDAL) and said future federal grants could be in jeopardy.
The FAA issued a "notice of investigation" to the city, saying it may have violated Airport Improvement Program grant agreements.
"If FAA's investigation establishes violations of the City's sponsor obligations and related Federal law, FAA may issue a determination that the City is in noncompliance with Federal grant obligations in its operation of Dallas Love Field," the agency said its notice.
"As a result, the City could be found to be ineligible to receive new FAA grants and payments under existing grants until this matter is resolved. Further sanctions, including a judicial order of enforcement, are also possible," the notice said.
The notice comes as Delta continues to battle with Dallas-based Southwest Airlines over Gate 15 at Dallas Love Field.
Over the weekend, Southwest ramped up its schedule from 118 flights to 180 flights it planned in the post Wright amendment world.
Delta hopes to expand its operations at the gate where it operates its five daily departures to Atlanta from that gate now.
Delta and Southwest are operating under a truce of sorts that allows Delta to continue flying from the gate until Sept. 30 or until U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade rules on the issue, whichever comes first.
The Wright amendment, which expired on Oct. 13, was a federal law designed to protect cross-town rival Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. It has since 1980 limited nonstop flights from Love Field to Texas and a few adjoining states.
In court filings, Southwest and the city of Dallas, which owns Love Field, have raised concerns that the airport will be too congested if the two airlines share Gate 15. Delta has said that Southwest has room to accommodate Delta.
Delta has accused Southwest of accelerating its schedule to keep Delta out, and requested permission back in February to add eight more flights as of Aug. 15.
Delta said in court filings, however, “Not coincidentally, on Feb. 26, 2015, Southwest first announced its intention to expand its flight schedule at Love Field to 180 daily flights as of Aug. 9, 2015.”
Southwest, though, has said its expansion had nothing to do with Delta’s request to expand.
The city of Dallas has not officially taken a stance on which airline should win the gate, but has said in court filings that it is concerned about “the safety and feasibility of sustained operations of more than 10 daily flights per gate because of the constraints on Love Field.”
The city has 30 days to respond to the FAA notice which was delivered on Friday.
(Lance Murray - Dallas Business news)