It’s nice to be watching the latest airline warfare at Dallas Love Field from a comfortable distance.
So long as it all stays within the bounds of the 2006 agreement between the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, DFW Airport, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, the belligerents in the current warfare, can fight to their hearts’ content.
It’s not comfortable for Dallas. On Wednesday, its attorneys asked the U.S. District Court for help in settling disputes over access to airline gates at the city-owned airport.
Southwest controls 18 of Love Field’s 20 gates. It’s been letting Delta Air Lines use some gates to operate five flights a day.
But Southwest wants to kick Delta out so it can expand its own schedule from the current 166 daily flights to 180 by Aug. 9. Southwest wants Delta gone by July 6.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is taking Delta’s side. The department’s general counsel wrote a letter in December saying airlines serving an airport are entitled to continue providing that service.
Southwest is disputing that contention at the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.
But that case won’t end before July 6, and Southwest says it won’t have room to accommodate Delta after that date. Both airlines are selling tickets to flights from disputed gates.
Virgin America, which controls the other two Love Field gates, says it won’t be Delta’s host, either.
It’s not hard to see where this might be headed: Airlines could step up pressure for more gates at Love Field.
But in 2006, in order to resolve decades of fighting over flight limits at Love Field, its competition with DFW and neighborhood noise levels, Dallas agreed that Love would not have more than 20 gates.
That deal is backed up by federal legislation. Dallas must abide by it.