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Southwest Airlines files appeal on Love Field gate case

With Dallas Love Field limited to 20 gates, Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines continue their court battle for gate space.
With Dallas Love Field limited to 20 gates, Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines continue their court battle for gate space.

Southwest Airlines filed its written appeal on Friday, asking the courts to reverse a temporary injunction that is allowing Delta Air Lines to continue operations at Dallas Love Field.

The appeal, filed with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, argues the case is about Southwest’s rights to use the 18 gates that it leases at Dallas Love Field without interference from Delta.

“Delta’s current request for “accommodation” at Love Field is its latest attempt to obtain valuable gate space for no risk or investment,” the filing said.

At issue is gate space at Love Field, which is limited to 20 gates by the Wright Amendment Reform Act, which ended restrictions on long-haul flights from the airport in 2014. Delta had been leasing gate space from United Airlines until the end of 2014, when United transferred its leases on two gates to Southwest for $120 million. The other two gates at Love Field are used by Virgin America, which recently announced its merger with Alaska Airlines.

Southwest and Delta had a temporary agreement allowing Delta to fly its five daily flights to Atlanta through last summer, but Southwest planned to kick Delta out after that so it could use the gates for new flights. With both airlines claiming rights to gate space, the city of Dallas filed a lawsuit, asking the court to decide who should use the gates.

After a September court hearing, U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade granted a temporary injunction in January in Delta’s favor, allowing it to continue operations while the court case continues.

Southwest says that by accommodating Delta’s five daily flights to Atlanta out of its gate space, it is causing delays in Southwest’s operations of its 180 daily flights at Love Field.

“In granting Delta’s motion for preliminary injunction and denying Southwest’s, the district court committed two critical errors. First, it improperly gave Delta the status of a third-party beneficiary under the Lease, despite the fact that Delta is not a party to it, or even mentioned in it. Second, the district court eviscerated Southwest’s right to use its preferential lease gate space without interference, including the ability to gradually ramp up service on those gates after the expiration of the Wright Amendment restrictions in October 2014,” the filing said.

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Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk