Southwest CEO Refers to Delta As A ‘Squatter’ At Dallas Love Field

by Miles Jackson

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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 It was fully repealed in 2014.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.

The Upshot

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?

What Exactly Is A Southwest Wanna Get Away Fare? 

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derek April 22, 2019 - 12:08 pm

Southwest is a bully at Dallas Love Field. They and the other airlines should push Congress to allow the airport to expand from 20 gates to 35. Either that or Southwest should have 2 or 3 gates taken from them.

Miles Jackson April 23, 2019 - 6:04 am

There is also a large public resistance to more flights in & out of Love from the local residents. So, I don’t see that many more daily flights will get approved.

derek April 22, 2019 - 12:10 pm

Another way is to not go to Congress and keep it at 20 gates but have remote stands. Southwest could have 8 remote stands and more if it needs them.

Bill April 22, 2019 - 3:08 pm

One thing not mentioned: When United pulled out of the airport it offered its gates to Delta, but Delta wasn’t willing to pay United’s price. So United offered them to Southwest, who pulled out their checkbook.

Now Delta wants the courts to give them for free what they weren’t willing to pay market price for.

Miles Jackson April 22, 2019 - 3:47 pm


Thank you for adding another part of this story. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

747always April 23, 2019 - 2:45 am

Thats in interesting point. Wasnt aware. Thanks for pointing this out.

Miles Jackson April 23, 2019 - 5:48 am

Always glad to be a great source of information for our readers…

jim April 24, 2019 - 6:24 am

Gary Kelly wants a monopoly at DAL. Not going to happen.

By the way, eventually the public will get around to partly blaming Southwest Airlines for the 737MAX design…as they should. Southwest has been nickel-and-diming Boeing for the last 25 years. Your can thank Southwest for the 737NG and the MAX. Both aircraft are nothing but Boeing designers cow-towing to Southwest. Corners cut, safety compromised in order to deliver a product to SWA airline specifications.

Miles Jackson April 24, 2019 - 7:23 am

I think all airline CEO’s would love monopolies…some are very close in certain markets. It will be interesting to see how the courts determine Delta’s status as an injured party. It is also entertaining and educational to see the various interpretations of contract law at play in this situation.


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