Will New York make the cut? Or maybe Las Vegas?
On Monday, Southwest Airlines will announce what cities it will fly to from Dallas Love Field once Wright Amendment restrictions are lifted in October. The amendment, which has restricted flights to Texas and nearby states since 1979, has kept the carrier from flying to most U.S. cities with its Boeing 737s from the airport closest to downtown Dallas.
“We are very excited about it. … I think it is a huge opportunity,” Chief Executive Gary Kelly told investors during the airline’s fourth-quarter earnings call last week. “I can guarantee we are going to add new itineraries and new flights once the repeal is in effect on Oct. 13.”
An event has been scheduled for Monday morning at Love Field with Kelly, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Southwest flies 120 to 130 daily flights from Love Field to destinations like Houston, New Orleans, Albuquerque and San Antonio. With the restrictions ending in October, analysts expect Southwest to add flights to some of its busier airports, such as Las Vegas, Chicago Midway and Baltimore.
“Southwest will start flying nonstop to Chicago and Baltimore, but I don’t think there is going to be any dramatic expansion,” Southern Methodist University economist Bud Weinstein said during an interview in January. He pointed to the limit on gates at Love Field, capped at 20, and the continued ban on international flights.
In its earnings call, Southwest told investors that Wright Amendment revenue — derived from passengers buying “through tickets” to distant cities from Love by stopping in other cities — contributed $75 million in the fourth quarter and about $300 million for the full year.
Delta Air Lines announced last year that it plans to add 18 daily nonstop flights from Love Field to New York LaGuardia, Los Angeles, Detroit and Minneapolis-St. Paul in October.
Delta uses gates leased from American Airlines. However, American must give up those gates as part of its antitrust settlement with the Justice Department, and it’s unclear which airline will buy them.