Southwest to add nonstop flights between Chicago and Dallas
BY DAVID KOENIG | AP Airlines Writer February 3, 2014 8:46AM
Southwest freed from US flight limits in Dallas
TAKING FLIGHT: Southwest Airlines will add nonstop flights from Dallas to 15 cities this fall, all long-haul routes that have been blocked by a 1980 federal law. A provision added by Rep. Jim Wright, a Fort Worth Democrat who would later become speaker of the House, prohibited airlines from using planes with more than 56 seats from making long flights to or from Love Field.
TURF BATTLE: The Wright Amendment was designed to insulate the fledgling Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport from competition. American Airlines and other carriers moved their flights to DFW, now one of the world’s busiest airports, but Southwest stayed at Love Field. Because of the law, it could only fly from Dallas to cities in Texas and a few nearby states.
PEACE DECLARED: After Southwest campaigned for repeal of the Wright Amendment, Congress agreed in 2006 to end the restrictions on Love Field on Oct. 13, 2014. The bill capped Love Field at 20 gates, of which 16 are now controlled by Southwest.
Updated: February 3, 2014 11:04AM
DALLAS — Southwest Airlines plans to start nonstop flights between Dallas and Chicago and 14 other cities this fall, when federal limits on the airline’s home airport end.
The new service will put Southwest — once a scrappy underdog — in head-to-head competition with American and maybe Delta.
Southwest announced Monday that it will fly from Love Field to Chicago’s Midway Airport and four other cities, on Oct. 13 and 10 more on Nov. 2.
Those routes are currently off-limits to Southwest’s Boeing 737 jets because of a 1980 law designed to protect nearby Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Under the Wright Amendment, as the law was called, planes bigger than 56 seats could only fly from Love Field to other cities in Texas and a few nearby states.
With the new long-haul routes, Southwest will compete against similar service from American Airlines Group Inc. at nearby DFW Airport.
Southwest’s toughest competition, however, might come from Delta Air Lines Inc., which is already selling tickets for flights in late 2014 from Love Field to New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Detroit.
There’s just one hitch: Delta doesn’t have any gates at Love Field.
American has two gates but agreed to give them up to settle a government lawsuit against its merger with US Airways. Delta wants to buy them from American, but so does Southwest, and other airlines could enter the bidding.
When Southwest CEO Gary Kelly was asked recently about competing with Delta at Love Field, he replied, “It remains to be seen who will get those two gates.”
The U.S. Justice Department has said that the gates American is giving up shouldn’t go to so-called legacy carriers — a short list that includes Delta and United. In Delta’s favor, however, is the fact that Southwest already controls 16 of the 20 gates at Love Field.
Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter said the airline planned to “provide Dallas travelers with more choices and competition at Love Field.”
On Oct. 13, Southwest will start flying from Dallas to Chicago; Baltimore; Denver; Las Vegas; and Orlando, Fla.