Sky Talk

Day 2 at the Love Field hearing

A Delta Connection Canadair Regional Jet takes off at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. (Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison)
A Delta Connection Canadair Regional Jet takes off at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. (Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison) Star-Telegram

There was no bombshell $120 million gate price disclosure on the second day of the Love Field hearing.

But there were a few interesting tidbits for aviation geeks revealed during the testimony of Delta’s two executives. And yes, there were a couple more references to District Judge Ed Kinkeade’s Baylor Airlines.

-Internal Delta e-mails displayed during the hearing show Delta executives did not want to give United significant amounts of cash for the gates at Love Field. “We would not want to overpay for a UA gate,” one email said while another said, “Unless UA will offer us a secure long term deal we are not interested.”

-Delta vice president of network planning-Americas Joe Esposito told the court that Delta’s flights to Love Field prior to the expiration of the Wright Amendment restrictions in October 2014 were not profitable. The carrier was using 50-seat regional jets to fly 5 daily flights to Atlanta. After the restrictions were lifted, Delta switched to Boeing 717 aircraft with 110 seats and the routes are now profitable, Esposito said. Delta said it has increased its total passenger traffic in the North Texas market by 15 percent.

-Esposito said there is space for Southwest to accommodate Delta’s five daily flights, citing a gate utilization analysis it conducted that would increase the number of turns per gate. Southwest says it can only perform 10 turns per gate and it has reached its maximum with 180 flights at 18 gates. Esposito testified that Delta has 10.4 turns per gate at Los Angeles and that Love Field could handle that level of use.

-Delta has 26,000 tickets sold on Love Field flights in the next year. Sixty percent of the tickets are for flights in October, while 20 percent are in November. Ten percent are in December with the remaining 10 percent are for flights in 2016. If the judge rules against Delta, these customers will either get a refund or will be reaccommodated on Delta flights out of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, Delta said.

-Love Field flights had load factors over 90 percent this summer, Esposito said. DFW flights also had very high load factors, although not as high as its Love Field-Atlanta flights, he testified. About 65 percent of Delta’s Love Field passengers are connecting through Atlanta to another destination while 35 percent are originating and departing in Atlanta or Dallas.

-Another internal 2013 Delta document showed that American had the largest market share in the total North Texas region with 61 percent of the revenue. Southwest had the second largest market share with 12 percent prior to the expiration of the Wright Amendment. Love Field also has the highest profit margin in Southwest’s system at 16 percent, the document said.

Kinkeadisms on Tuesday

-“I’m a customer too and I’m always looking for more comfort,” Kinkeade said, telling Delta that all of the airlines need to think about their customers. “The flying experience today is like the first scene in Rawhide.”

-He also complained about the snack offerings on Southwest. “Southwest used to give good peanuts. Now they give bad peanuts...they used to have the honey on them.” When the Delta lawyer informed him that Delta serves cookies, Kinkeade said, “that’s a step up.”

-And for his Baylor mention of the day... “I went to Baylor. My parents went to Baylor. My children went to Baylor. I made them marry people who went to Baylor. My dog went to Baylor....[Delta] wouldn’t be fighting this hard to fly out of Waco.”

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