Southwest Airlines, the primary carrier at Dallas Love Field Airport, has been locked in a battle with rival Delta Airlines over the use of Southwest-owned gates inside the brand-new terminal at the airport.
Dallas-based Southwest controls 18 of the 20 city-owned gates in Dallas’ lesser-used airport, and leases one gate to Delta, which currently operates five flights a day.
Delta wants to expand service from Love Field, but Southwest would rather that Delta completely leaves.
On Thursday, Southwest found an unlikely supporter in the form of another competitor, the Dallas Morning News reports:
Virgin America president and chief executive David Cush said Thursday that Southwest controls the gates and shouldn’t have to share them with Delta.
“My view of this is pretty clear: Southwest owns those gates,” Cush said at a breakfast meeting of the Dallas Regional Chamber. “They should be able to do whatever they want to with them without having Delta enlisting the government to do their bidding.”
His comments came a day after the city of Dallas asked the U.S. District Court in Dallas to decide who should be allowed to fly out of Love Field.
Mandates from federal agencies and lawsuit threats from several airlines “have put the city in an impossible situation that only this court can resolve,” the city said in its lawsuit.
The skirmish was caused by the expiration of Wright Amendment, a federal mandate in place for over three decades. Under the law, which expired in October, airlines at Love Field could only fly to other places in Texas or a few nearby states unless they used very small planes, according to the Associated Press.
With new frontiers it can legally serve, Southwest intends to fully use all 18 of its gates at Love Field, a spokesman told the Dallas Morning News.
“Southwest will therefore be unable to accommodate any other airline, including Delta, on its gates after that date,” said spokesman Brad Hawkins.
On Friday, Delta Airlines sent a letter to the City of Dallas claiming the City is “in breach of its federal obligations.”
“The City of Dallas has twice been told by the DOT that it has a responsibility to accommodate other airlines at Love Field, where one carrier operates 97 per cent of all flights” said Delta spokesperson Trebor Banstetter.
“Delta has patiently waited for nearly a year for that accommodation, and our patience has come to an end.”
The lawsuit filed by the City of Dallas against the US Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration and six other airlines has a deadline of July 6.