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Dallas Seeks Help From Federal Court to Settle Southwest v. Delta Gate Dispute at Love Field

Dallas Seeks Help From Federal Court to Settle Southwest v. Delta Gate Dispute at Love Field
Joe Cortez

Southwest Airlines employees work through the snow at Dallas Lov

A lawsuit filed by the city of Dallas looks to settle the ongoing gate dispute between Delta and Southwest.

A major Texas metropolis is asking for help from the federal court in determining the fate of a single gate at Dallas Love Field (DAL). The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports the city of Dallas has filed a lawsuit to ask for clarification on who has final authority over one DAL gate — Delta Air Lines or Southwest Airlines.

The lawsuit is in response to a long-standing dispute between Delta and Southwest at DAL. Currently, Southwest controls 18 of the 20 available gates at the airport, two of which the airline took over from United Airlines. The remaining two gates, formerly held by American Airlines, are now controlled by Virgin America.

Delta is fighting to maintain gate access in order to continue offering daily nonstop flights between DAL and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL),  Currently, Southwest licenses only one of their gates to Delta, but officials at Southwest claim the airline needs the disputed gate to continue expansion plans at their home airport.

The city of Dallas is requesting a federal judge determine which airline has priority over the disputed gate. Officials for the city claim a Wright Amendment agreement between the city, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), American and Southwest holds precedence, while the U.S. Department of Transportation says the decision lies squarely with the city of Dallas.

Meanwhile, the airlines hold equally opposing positions on the dispute. A Delta representative told the Star-Telegram “…[the] DOT confirmed Delta’s right under federal law to serve Love Field indefinitely with its five existing flights, and also confirmed that the city has an obligation to accommodate the eight additional flights which Delta has requested.”

In their own statement to the newspaper, however, Southwest claimed that the DOT’s position “violates Southwest’s legal and contractual rights but would also reduce competition, costing consumers millions of dollars in higher airfares.”

On Friday, Southwest asked a federal court to remove Delta from DAL if the legacy carrier remains beyond July 6. According to court documents filed by Southwest, if Delta is still offering flights out of DAL on July 7, it will be “trespassing” on Southwest’s gates.

[Photo: Southwest Airlines, Stephen M. Keller]

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