Monday, August 10, 2015

Southwest Airlines completes post-Wright buildup at Dallas Love Field

Southwest Airlines has finished its post-Wright Amendment expansion at Dallas Love Field, where the airline has boosted its offerings 53 percent since October, jumping to 180 flights daily from 118.
Meanwhile, the Dallas-based airline is trying to further cement its home field advantage at Love by blasting Delta Air Lines from a gate the two carriers share there.
The nine cities added to Southwest’s schedule on Aug. 9 were Boston; Charleston, S.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; Detroit; Omaha, Neb.; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Raleigh/Durham, N.C.; and Salt Lake City. Each city got one nonstop departure daily.
In October 2014, most federal flight restrictions at Dallas Love Field were lifted. In all, Southwest has phased in 34 new destinations since then, jumping from 16 cities to 50.
Some of the new cities with multiple weekday flights include Chicago Midway with seven; Atlanta, Denver and Phoenix with five apiece;
Baltimore/Washington, Las Vegas, Las Angeles, Washington Reagan National and New York La Guardia with four each; and Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Nashville with three apiece.
Southwest added two weekday flights to San Diego, Tampa Bay, Santa Ana/Orange County, Oakland, Memphis and Seattle/Tacoma.
Other destinations have lost weekday flights, including Austin, which dropped to 11 from 12; El Paso, down to four from six; Houston to 21 from 23; and San Antonio to 10 from 13. Other flight losers include Alburquerque, which dropped to five from eight; Kansas City, down to seven from nine; St. Louis, to seven from nine; and Tulsa, down to three from four.
System-wide, Southwest operates more than 3,600 flights a day.
On the legal front, Southwest and Atlanta-based Delta are battling in U.S. District Court over Gate 15 at Love, where Delta hopes to expand its operations. Delta operates its five daily departures to Atlanta from that gate now.
Southwest and Delta are now operating under a truce 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, a federal law designed to protect cross-town rival Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, has since 1980 limited nonstop flights from Love Field to Texas and a few adjoining states. That law expired Oct. 13.
Southwest and the city of Dallas, which owns Love Field, have raised concerns in court filings that the airport will be too congested if Southwest and Delta 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.
“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,” Delta’s court filings say.
Southwest said its expansion had nothing to do with Delta’s request to expand.
“Southwest’s gradual, measured expansion following the repeal of the Wright amendment’s geographic restrictions was done in consideration of significant operational, reliability and passenger-handling considerations that naturally arise from expanded service at a newly rebuilt airport like Love Field,” Southwest said.
The city 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.”
(Dallas Business Journal) 

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