New Dallas Love Field Airport rules signed into law

Washington DC
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President George W Bush today signed into law a new set of rules governing operations a Dallas Love Field Airport, including a repeal of the contentious Wright Amendment limiting services from the airport in eight years.

The new Wright Amendment Reform Act of 2006, however, retains a ban on international services from Love Field, and cuts the number of gates that can be used for passenger services to 20 “as soon as is practicable”.

Love Field currently has 26 passenger gates intact.

Also, restrictions on nonstop services currently imposed upon Love Field-based airlines remained unchanged until the repeal take effect in 2014. This restrictions limit nonstop services to within Texas and to Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico and Oklahoma.

Each Love Field charter operator is limited to 10 flights a month under the new law.

The bill was approved late last month by the US House of Representatives and the Senate after eleventh hour changes to conditions some legislators considered a breach of the country’s antitrust laws. However, the fundamental elements of an agreement between Love Field based-Southwest Airlines and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)-hubbed American Airlines are intact.

These include new rights that allow Love Field narrowbody operators to offer through ticketing to destinations within the USA.

However, an agreement to give Southwest 16 of Love Field’s gates, and two each to American and Continental Airlines - which is not part of the new law - is subject to several lawsuits.

“We are extremely pleased to see the Wright Amendment Reform Act become law with the President’s signature today,” says DFW chief operating officer Kevin Cox in a statement. “This is the dawn of a new day in North Texas aviation, as we look forward to a bright future and new growth under this historic legislation.”

He adds: “We would like to express our deepest gratitude to mayor Laura Miller of Dallas and mayor Mike Moncrief of Fort Worth for having the vision to bring the parties together for this historic agreement, to the Dallas and Fort Worth city councils for their support of it, and we would especially like to thank all the members of the North Texas Congressional delegation for their leadership in seeing this through all the way to the President’s desk.”

The Wright Amendment was introduced in the 1970s to protect the then newly-built DFW from competition.

Neither American, Continental nor Southwest are immediately available for comment. Mayor Miller in a press conference said the city will proceed with its obligations, including the demolition of a terminal once used by the new-defunct Legend Airlines.

The new rules take effect once the US FAA has confirmed that the law meets its safety standards. This is considered a procedural move.