For those of you that have flown into Dallas on Southwest, you have flown through Dallas Love Field. If you need to get to downtown Dallas, Love field is much preferred as it is closer than DFW. Love Field has a brand new terminal that has received much praise and year to date the passenger traffic is up 50%. The growth, however, has not come without it’s fair share of issues. It is evident that people prefer to fly into Love Filed for the proximity to the Dallas but with a massive increase in passenger numbers, will the airport be able to handle the capacity and keep the airlines happy?
The Wright Amendment
The Wright Amendment was a long time restriction on long-haul operating from Love Field. This worked out in Southwest’s favor but since the amendments repeal in 2014 other airlines with longer routes have been clamoring for gate space. You think this would be great for the airport, but, unfortunately, that is not the case. Love Field has been plagued with delays since the lifting of the amendment and airlines like Virgin American is none too please. Virgin America’s CEO was quoted as saying Love Field was the worst airport in America in terms of delays due to overuse. The situation is about to get even worse because Southwest has added more flights and Delta the third largest occupant is requesting for flights as well.
Most of the problems can be traced back to 2006 when the repeal process begun. Concessions were made to allow long haul flights to commence. Congress who loves to mess with the airline industry mandated that the gates at the airport would be capped at 20 down from 32. It is slightly absurd that an airport outside of the major metropolitan city would have 20 gates. From DFW point of view, they must love this, as Love Field is restricted to growing and can’t really infringe on their traffic. Southwest has 180 departures today leaving only 19 for Virgin America and five on Delta. That makes 10 departures per gate which is extremely heavy for a medium sized airport.
Southwest has legal rights to 18 of the airports 20 gates which leave 2 for Virgin America. Delta leases a gate from Southwest for its 5 flights a day. The city of Dallas has sued all three airlines and the FAA and DOT. The city wants the squabble over the airlines to be resolved and the capacity to finalized once and for all. In turn, Southwest filed for a restraining order against Delta, to kick them out of their gates. Delta responded by threatening to sued Southwest. Also, the FAA has claimed the City of Dallas has breached their duty to allow Delta to operate at Love Field. It’s a real mess for sure.
The real issue here is the 20 gate limitations. If they went back to the 32 gate setup the cluster of flights would dissipate somewhat. The city of Dallas seems to be in a bind and cannot abide by the 20 gate limitation without depriving Southwest or VA of their property rights, but they can’t boot Delta either. There is a court date set for Septemeber to hash this out and set a permanent capacity allocation for all three airlines. As always when traveling to Dallas be sure to use the tripchi app for your adventure. Travel On!