Thursday, December 08, 2005

Can't fly to Dallas on the cheap

Finally, this old law is getting chipped away at.  If you have never had to think about traveling to Texas by air before, then you might not be familiar with this issue.  It’s an example of one of the worst and most useless bills on the record:  The Wright Amendment.

The Wright Amendment is named after US Congressman Jim Wright, representative of the Fort Worth area.  When Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) was built, major airlines servicing Dallas-Love and Gr. SW Int. Airport in Fort Worth agreed to use DFW, as the FAA determined that it would no longer fund the older airports.

Along comes Southwest Airlines, which until 1978 had only flown inside of Texas, but was based out of Love field. 

    After the deregulation of the U.S. airline industry in 1978, Southwest Airlines entered the larger passenger market with plans to start providing interstate service in 1979. This angered the City of Fort Worth, DFW International Airport, American Airlines and Braniff International Airways which resented expanded air service at the airport within Dallas. To help protect DFW International Airport, Jim Wright, a Fort Worth congressman, sponsored and helped pass an amendment to an unrelated law in Congress which restricted passenger air traffic out of Love Field in the following ways:

    • Passenger service on regular mid-sized and large aircraft could only be provided from Love Field to locations within Texas and the four neighboring states (Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico). At the time, all of Southwest's destinations were included within this zone, hence the law had no immediate effect on Southwest's operations.
    • Long-haul service to other states was possible, but only on commuter aircraft with no more capacity than 56 passengers.

OK, so the only benefits of this bill are American Airline’s and DFW’s profit margin.  Since American is based in Fort Worth, it’s easy to see whose lobbyists got the better of the legislative system.

Southwest has been putting up a small public relations campaign to repeal this anti-competition statute.  Check out Set Love Free, run by Southwest.

Anyway, in the first sentence of this post is a link to another blog that has lots of links to news that a transportation bill just signed by President Bush exempts Missouri from the Amendment, bringing the grand total states that Southwest can fly to out of Dallas to 9. 


Anonymous said...

You definitely could fly to Dallas on the cheap if Southwest chose to operate out of DFW. I suppose it is their choice to keep fighting Wright instead, but cheap fares from Dallas are quite possible if there was more competition (i.e. Southwest) at DFW.

Anonymous said...

I think the fact that the DFW Airport Board has been publicly harrassing Southwest Airlines (while supposedly courting them) serves as more than a little spooky.

Heck, I wouldn't go over there either if I had to put up with all the nonsense from the DFW Airport Board.