The fight over flights from Dallas Love Field heads to court this week as Delta Air Lines seeks a court order to prevent Southwest Airlines from taking its gate space.
Attorneys for Delta, Southwest Airlines and the city of Dallas are scheduled to appear at a hearing in Dallas on Monday where a federal judge may decide whether or not Delta can continue to fly out of Love Field under a temporary restraining order.
The legal battle began in June when the city of Dallas filed suit, asking the judge to help the city figure out if it has to continue to provide gate space to Delta Air Lines, which currently operates five daily flights to Atlanta.
Delta had been leasing gate space from United Airlines until the end of last year when United transferred its leases on two gates at Love Field to Southwest Airlines. Delta and Southwest had a temporary agreement to allow Delta to continue flying through July, but Southwest planned to end that deal as the Dallas-based carrier added more flights to its schedule at Love Field. Southwest wants Delta out by Oct. 1.
The two airlines have since filed dozens of court pleadings asking for injunctions from District Judge Ed Kinkeade.
“This Court has the unique ability to stop irreparable harm to Love Field users and to Delta Air Lines resulting from Southwest Airlines’ breach of contract and tortious conduct because, without an order of this Court, Delta will be forced out of and prohibited from competing at Love Field,” Delta said in a court filing last week. “Southwest will be left in a 90 percent monopoly position at Love Field, a position obtained improperly.”
With last year’s expiration of the Wright Amendment flight restrictions — which prohibited direct long-haul flights out of Love using large aircraft — airlines have been scrambling for gate space at the inner-city Dallas airport. Under the Wright Amendment compromise agreement, Southwest had the leases to operate at 16 of the 20 available gates.
By obtaining United’s gates, Southwest now controls 18 gates, with the other two operated by Virgin America. Virgin gained the gates from American Airlines, which was was required to divest them as part of its agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to receive approval of its merger with US Airways in 2013.
Southwest has argued that it doesn’t need to make gate space available to Delta and needs the space to operate its 180 daily flights.
“The City has thrown up its hands and sought general guidance from this Court about what it should do—regardless of whether Southwest or Delta benefits—while Southwest specifically requests that this Court adopt its position that Delta is not entitled to accommodation and declare that to be the case,” Southwest said in a court filing last month.