Update: Southwest has agreed to temporarily make room for Delta at Love Field until a long term solution is reached.
Things are getting weird at Love Field in Dallas. Call it a love triangle between Southwest, Delta, and the City of Dallas (which owns Love Field). And if we’ve learned anything from Hollywood, it’s that love triangles don’t end well. Naturally, the story playing out before our very eyes is getting messier and messier by the day.
Let’s start at the beginning
Delta has five flights a day to Atlanta using gates that United, technically, has the rights to. The reason they’re able to use them is because Delta and United came up with a gate-sharing agreement for use of the gates at Love Field.
That agreement comes to an end on July 6th. Right now, United no longer operates any flights out of Love. Southwest noticed, and petitioned the City of Dallas if they could sublease those gates from United beginning on July 7th. Dallas said “okay” without much thought at all (I find it strange that United didn’t really have a say. At least, that’s what it seems).
Here’s where it really gets interesting: Southwest and Delta are both selling tickets for “flights” that’ll leave from those disputed gates from July 7th on. Obviously, something is gonna have to give. Naturally, both companies are being nice and stubborn with neither backing down. Which means this will now be up to the courts to decide.
In the courts
Dallas filed its case last week, asking for the federal court’s help in deciding which airline gets to stay which one gets to go. In turn, Southwest filed for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the city.
Southwest is also calling Delta “trespassers,” and wants the court to kick them out of Love come July 7th.
Delta is saying they’re not going anywhere. The following is a statement from a Delta spokesman:
“The City of Dallas has twice been told by the DOT that it has a responsibility to accommodate other airlines at Love Field, where one carrier operates 97 percent of all flights. Delta has patiently waited for nearly a year for that accommodation, and our patience has come to an end. The city appears to be engaged in anti-competitive, collusive behavior that ultimately hurts the traveling public by reducing competition and travel choices at Love Field. Unless the city can live up to its obligation under federal law and accommodate Delta’s five daily flights to Atlanta, Delta will have no choice but to seek emergency injunctive relief to avoid disrupting thousands of passengers.”
Quite the mess, right?
Someones gonna end up getting screwed in the end. And it’s looking more and more like it’ll be the customers. Both Southwest and Delta are selling tickets on flights that may or may not happen. To me, it’s odd that a metropolitan area as big as DFW, with two airports, really only has two airlines to choose from: American and Southwest. Maybe the courts will give another airline the opportunity to make a footprint in such a lucrative market. Or things will stay as is, giving American and Southwest an even tighter grip on Texas.
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