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So Long Wright Amendment…

September 30th, 2006 · No Comments

Here’s the latest news on the Wright Amendment fight.

WASHINGTON, Sept 29 (Reuters) – Legislation that would end a long-running Texas turf war between airline powerhouses — AMR Corp.’s American Airlines and Southwest Airlines was approved by the U.S. Congress on Friday and sent to President George W. Bush to be signed into law.

Final action came as the U.S. House of Representatives voted 386-22 to approve a measure that cleared the Senate earlier on Friday.

It would eventually repeal a 1979 law — the Wright Amendment — that restricts nonstop long-distance flights to most major cities from Love Field in Dallas, Southwest’s home airport.

The proposal was initially crafted by the two airlines and Dallas-area officials in July.

The Wright Amendment was put in place to spur growth of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, American’s hub located just miles from Love Field.
Prior to their compromise, American fiercely opposed any change in the law as Southwest grew from a regional company to a formidable nationwide carrier. Under the compromise approved by Congress, long-distance nonstop flights at Love would be limited for another eight years.

In exchange, Southwest would immediately be able to sell through tickets for Dallas flights to and from any other cities it serves, as long as those flights stop at another Texas airport or airports in eight other states covered by the Wright law: New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Missouri.

Currently, Southwest passengers have to buy two tickets for two flights if they want to fly to or from Love Field — still connecting through the other eight states. That restriction cost passengers more money to book the extra flight and is less convenient than the new plan.

Under the agreement, available gate space at Love Field would shrink from 32 to 20. Southwest would get most of the gates while American and Continental Airlines’ Express Jet unit would also maintain access.

A provision that would have given airlines and the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, as well as DFW airport, broad exemption from antitrust laws over the reduction in gate space was struck from the bill in recent days.

Lawmakers included less sweeping language they say should give parties adequate legal protection.

Southwest currently operates 121 daily departures from Love Field.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

So all that’s left now is for President Bush to sign the legislation.

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