Thursday, June 15, 2006

mayors miller and moncrief set love field free

"Well, we did it," said Dallas Mayor Laura Miller. "We found a way to set Love free, but we stopped and thought about it a lot."

"In my 30 years of public service, I have never been involved in more intense ... negotiations," said Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief. "All parties have what I like to say is some 'skin' in this game. I believe this agreement is one that works."

That's right... Mayor Laura Miller of Dallas and Mayor Mike Moncrief of Fort Worth have signed an agreement that will hopefully put a final end to the Wright Amendment debate in the DFW Metroplex. For those unaware of the Wright Amendment and its effects, The Dallas Morning News sums it up nicely:

The 26-year-old Wright amendment limits flights from Dallas Love Field to Texas' adjoining states for planes with more than 56 seats.

The law reflects a compromise for the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth and Southwest Airlines Co., which has its headquarters at Love Field and didn't want to move to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport when it opened in 1974.

The law limits what Southwest Airlines Co. can do from its headquarters airport because it only uses Boeing 737s, all of which are above that seat limit.

A counterpart, the 1997 Shelby amendment, allows flights to Mississippi, Alabama and Kansas. Southwest doesn't offer nonstop service from Love to any of those states.

Last year, Congress added Missouri to the permitted cities, and both Southwest and American Airlines Inc. now fly to St. Louis and Kansas City from Love Field.

Lately, Southwest Airlines has been putting pressure on Congress and local government to repeal the amendment. North Texas legislators have asked the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth to come to some sort of agreement and the result was revealed today by the mayors of said cities.

Under the accords, Southwest Airlines could begin immediate through-ticketing (meaning they could have a passenger purchase a ticket to any destination with a layover in a Wright state). Also, several gates at Love Field would be demolished or condemned, leaving only sixteen gates for Southwest Airlines, two for American Airlines, and two for Continental Airlines. Some officials guess that American would probably make a graceful exit from Love under the accords, continuing all of their Dallas area flights from DFW International Airport. All flight restrictions at Love Field would be lifted by the year 2014. Love Field would receive $200 million in upgrades and would benefit from restrictions at all airports within an eighty-mile radius, including Fort Worth Alliance Airport.

Dallas would also impose a noise curfew on Love Field, disallowing flights between 11pm and 6am. If Congress were to pass legislation inconsistent with the accords and Southwest wanted to continue with non-stop service to or from Love Field, Southwest would be forced to give up eight more gates at the airport. Also, if Southwest chose to operate out of other local airports before 2025, it would be forced to give up gates at Love Field.

Reactions from Metroplex residents are mixed. Some are grateful to Miller and Moncrief for finally moving forward on this heated issue, while others feel that one or both parties were shafted in the agreement. Most do feel that we are actually making progress on the Wright Amendment, though. Even though Southwest must endure eight more years of restrictions, we now know that Love will eventually be set free for good.

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