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For several years, Delta Air Lines and Southwest have been at war, in of all places at ‘Love’ Field in Dallas. But there’s no love between the two airlines. Recently, Southwest Airlines Chairman and Chief Executive Gary Kelly likened Delta’s presence at Love Field to that of a squatter. According to an article posted by Dallas Business Journal, Kelly, speaking at a North Dallas Chamber of Commerce event Thursday is quoted as saying:
It’s like you having rented a house, and there’s a squatter in the house and you’ve got to get them out. It’s really no more complicated than that.
How It All Began
Delta began operating flights a few years back in an agreement with Southwest to provide flights to Atlanta. That agreement ended, but Delta never left Love Field. And Southwest wants them out. That’s understandable since Love Field has only 20 gates and is limited to 200 flights daily.
The airlines took their battle to court, and is still tied up in the courts. They were scheduled to go to trial in February of this year, but that date was pushed off by the presiding judge to September.
Let’s Get Technical
Delta has argued that it should be able to stay at Love Field since its flights were operating before Southwest increased their flight schedule at Love to full capacity. This was following the lift of Wright Amendment restrictions in 2014. That amendment (originally put into law in 1979) was designed to protect Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) airport from competition. It was fully repealed in 2014.
The City of Dallas owns the airport. In an effort to settle the matter, the city took all parties to court to enact a final legal decision. That case has dragged on for years and has dragged Alaska Airlines into the mess as well. Alaska inherited gates when it acquired Virgin America. Over the history of the airport, both American Airlines and United operated flights out of Love Field.
Delta Wants More
Meanwhile, instead of vacating, Delta has requested additional flights out of Love Field. Recently, the courts considered making a further accommodation of Delta’s request for more flights by giving Delta some of Alaska Airlines’ underutilized gates. Alaska responded by increasing its flight schedule at Love.
Delta has continued operating flights throughout the legal battles and has thus far thwarted attempts to be removed from their leased gates. Delta argues that competition is needed and welcomed for the citizens of Dallas. Hmmm, I wonder how that’s working out for the citizens of Atlanta?