MIAMI — It appears as though cooler heads have prevailed at Dallas’s most convenient airport. In the wake of the stream of lawsuits, the most recent having been filed by the City of Dallas last week against six airlines and two federal agencies. Southwest and Delta—the two carriers at the center of the scuffle at Love Field—have managed to find consensus rather than the continued impasse.
As the result of a conference call with a federal judge, Southwest has agreed to permit Delta to extend its stay at Love Field under the current sublease terms until the pending court cases are resolved. No end date has been set, and the multiple pending cases are not expected to be decided upon until late this year or early next year. The deadlines for responses by defendants of the city’s lawsuit have been extended into July from their previous deadline of today.
In addition to continuing their current five daily flights to Atlanta, Delta has also requested permission to begin adding two daily frequencies to their hubs in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Detroit, and Salt Lake City, in addition to two more frequencies to Atlanta. Similarly, American Airlines has requested authorization for four flights to unspecified cities. Both carriers have significantly larger operations at neighboring DFW International Airport, which is also home to American’s headquarters.
Prior to October 13, 2014, Delta subleased gate space from American Airlines. American retained gate space at the airport from 2006 when they resumed service to Love Field using regional jets—first to St. Louis, Kansas City, Austin, and San Antonio in 2006, which was gradually reduced until it was replaced with service to Chicago-O’Hare in 2008. This service was short-lived, and American withdrew from the airport entirely, leaving its gate space for Delta to initiate service to Memphis in 2008, which was then shifted to Atlanta in 2012 following the de-hubbing of Memphis. On October 13 of last year, the two American gates were transferred to Virgin America as the result of a settlement between American-US Airways and the US Department of Justice over antitrust concerns. Delta and Southwest both submitted bids for the gates as well, but were rejected due to large market share.
With no lease, Delta frantically sought temporary accommodations from Southwest and then United, ultimately arriving at the current contract that has allowed them to use one of United’s two gates through July 6 of this year. United has since withdrawn from the airport and leased both of their gates to Southwest. Southwest plans to fully utilize both new gates as of August, and consequently denied Delta’s request to extend the sublease, though some reports suggest that Southwest did make an offer that was significantly more expensive than anyone could consider reasonable (to the tune of $30 million for only half of one gate). Delta has since sought injunctive relief to continue service to the airport in accordance with DOT directives, Southwest has sought a restraining order to prevent such a continuation, and the city has filed the most recent lawsuit in the interest of judicial clarification, bringing us to where we stood prior to this gesture of goodwill by Southwest.
More specific information on the pending lawsuit by the City of Dallas will be the subject of a future article.