MIAMI — It is not over until it’s over, and it would appear that the Dallas Love Field gate battle is not quite over. However, U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade who is presiding over the case did make some rulings in the case.
Judge Kinkeade announced that Delta may continue to operate its five daily flights to Atlanta to ensure that Delta’s customers are not inconvenienced while the courts handle a lawsuit over the dispute, and as the Star-Telegram reported, he also said that Delta’s access to the gates do not “unduly interfere” with Southwest’s Love Field operation. He also ruled that Southwest must inform the court within five days should it reduce or make any changes to its Dallas Love Field operations and that Southwest may not add any flights to the gates Delta uses.
Southwest does have some expansion plans already announced for Dallas Love Field. It started seasonal flights to Fort Myers on Saturday, January 9, and later this year it will add direct flights to both Burbank, California and Pensacola, Florida from Dallas. It will also end service to Wichita.
The judge announced that he predicts that gate access will continue to be a problem at Dallas Love Field as the airport is restricted to a 20-gate cap under the 2006-Wright Amendment Reform Act. So, he called for Congress to pass another reform to remove all of the restrictions from the Wright Amendment, saying “the flying public deserves more courage from its elected officials about travel to and from Love Field. The time for these elected officials to consider an end to all constraints on Love Field is now,” as reported by the Star-Telegram.
Should the restrictions eventually be lifted, there does not seem to be a very quick solution that will allow Delta nor Southwest to immediately expand, especially if Delta is given full access to the a gate. It has been suggested to use the Legend Terminal; although, the gates have been removed, and the terminal has been turned into a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility.
Southwest may appeal the judge’s ruling, and it is quite possible that this dispute will end up going to court. As far as what action Congress will take, that still remains unknown, but for the time being Delta gets to stay at Love Field.