A federal judge in Dallas may think all of the restrictions at Dallas Love Field need to be lifted, but local politicians are not so sure.
“Love Field is a great airport and Southwest is a great airline, but a deal is a deal,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, whose district includes parts of Arlington. “The existing arrangement provides North Texas with the best of both worlds — two outstanding airports that each fit different market needs.”
In Judge Ed Kinkeade’s 42-page ruling issued on Friday, he granted a temporary injunction allowing Delta Air Lines to remain at Love Field, even though it does not have gate space, while the legal issue is sorted out in the courts. Kinkeade also commented that he believed Congress should eliminate the 20-gate limit and the ban on international flights.
“To change this no-growth situation at Love Field, Congress will need to act,” Kinkeade wrote in his ruling. “The political powers-that-be can address and correct these issues that face Love Field and new entrant airlines through repealing legislation unique to this airport.”
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Barton said he was open to the House Transportation Committee possibly providing recommendations about Love Field related to congestion, safety and other community impacts but not the compromise agreement that was put in place in 2006.
In the ruling, Kinkeade says the city of Dallas, who operates Love Field, will continue to face issues regarding gate space if the restrictions aren’t lifted.
“Assuming [Wright Amendment Repeal Act] is constitutional since no one is attacking the statue at this point, the constraints imposed on this airport by WARA are constraining to the point of being out of date,” Kinkeade wrote. “These are political constraints, not constraints resulting from business related development. Love Field does not have the expansion options available to other airports which allow future growth.”
U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, said she is a supporter of Southwest Airlines but is concerned that the Dallas-based carrier may end up eventually controlling all of the gates at Love Field. Currently, Southwest has preferential-use leases on 18 of the 20 gates at Love Field.
“I don’t know what the courts will ultimately decide; however, the question remains whether a citizen-owned airport like LOVE Field should be controlled by one airline. The temporary injunction recently issued by the U.S. District Judge suggests that the answer is no.”