Deal Inked for Love Field Use

Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, Dallas/Forth Worth International Airport and mayors from both Texas cities have signed an agreement to open up Love Field in Dallas to any airline wanting to fly to destinations within the U.S. Southwest would also put up $200 million in funding from landing fees and passenger facility charges for an airport upgrade to include a new main terminal, concessions and a mass-transit connection from the airport to Dallas Area Rapid Transit. The deal, however, needs U.S. Congressional approval, as a federal law known as the Wright Amendment, restricts airline use at Love Field. Southwest has long wanted to fly nonstop from Love Field to many U.S. destinations, but the law restricted flights by any aircraft over 56 seats to intra-Texas only service. In the newly reached deal, the phase-out of restrictions would take eight years to complete, international service would not be permitted, and gates used by the airlines would shrink from 32 to 20 to appease noise and air pollution concerns. Right now, Southwest uses 14 gates, American three and Continental two. The deal would shift the allotment so that Southwest would use 16, with American and Continental getting two apiece for Southwest, two for American and two for Continental. The airlines and government entities that reached the deal are asking Congress to approve the agreement by Dec. 31; if not, it would expire. If approved, it would signal the end of a long battle between airlines and local governments.