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Southwest’s CEO: Delta Is Squatting At Love Field

Southwest’s CEO: Delta Is Squatting At Love Field
Scott Dylan

Southwest is slinging mud at Delta Air Lines. You may already know that the two carriers are locked in a legal battle over who can use gate space at Dallas Love Field. The fight took an interesting turn this week when Southwest’s CEO essentially accused Delta of squatting at the popular Dallas airport while giving a talk to an audience at the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce meeting. CEO Gary Kelly’s words were like something straight out of a reality-television spat.

Why are Southwest and Delta having such a hard time figuring out what’s what at Dallas Love Field?

The two airlines both want more gate space. Delta was officially granted permission to use extra gate space to launch five daily flights to Atlanta from Dallas. The problem is that Southwest actually operates 18 of the 20 gates at the airport. That means that Southwest was ordered by the court to share some of its space with Delta in order to make Delta’s plans happen. That arrangement was supposed to be temporary. However, three years have now passed without any changes. Delta is fighting to keep the arrangement just as it is. What’s more, Delta actually wants to increase the number of flights it operates to Atlanta from five up to eight.

Gary Kelly and the other bigwigs at Southwest aren’t going to have their wishes granted regarding gate space at Dallas Love Field at any point soon. The court case regarding air space at Dallas Love Field was supposed to be heard back in February of this year. However, the hearing was postponed. The current status is that the case won’t be heard until September. The city of Dallas actually got involved and initiated the legal proceedings that are going on right now. Dallas officials would simply like to see a resolution to the issue that allows operations to continue moving as smoothly as possible. The fact of the matter is that things are about to get a lot more complicated at Dallas Love Field. That’s because Alaska Airlines is about to enter the mix. Alaska actually gained two gates by default through the process of acquiring Virgin America.

Who is the city of Dallas rooting for in all of this?

Dallas officials have actually asked for the court to accommodate Delta’s requests for additional flights by allowing the carrier to fly out of gates that are owned by Alaska Airlines. However, Alaska has since announced that it plans to increase the number of flights that it will offer out of Dallas Love Field. That means that the city’s solution simply isn’t going to fly.

Southwest’s CEO may be willing to sling mud by accusing Delta of squatting. However, Delta is trying to stay above it all by releasing measured, slightly passive-aggressive statements. Delta’s position is that meaningful competition in the Dallas market is necessary in order to provide the best options and fares for the people of Dallas. In addition, Delta is making it clear that it plans to pursue its right to continue to fly out of Dallas Love Field.

[Image Source: Corgan]

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