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Love Field Caves on Gate Space after Delta Threatens Legal Action


Following threats of legal action and an FAA investigation, Dallas Love Field has reversed an eviction ruling that would’ve forced Delta Air Lines to vacate gate space by next week.

On the heels of a strongly-worded letter issued last week by Delta Air Lines to Dallas public officials, threatening legal action over a heated gate space dispute at Dallas Love Field (DAL), the carrier has announced an agreement to continue operations at DAL through the end of 2014. A statement from Delta released on Wednesday read:

Delta Air Lines has secured the right to continue to operate service at Dallas Love Field through the end of the year, and continues to work with all parties involved toward a permanent solution to allow for long-term service. Delta remains committed to serving its North Texas customers at both Love Field and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution released excerpts of the strongly-worded letter from Delta attorneys to Dallas officials on Monday. The letter, which was sent on October 2 following news that Delta had been given until October 13 to vacate DAL, accused Dallas public officials of backroom dealing and threatened unspecified legal action if the carrier was evicted.

“It is simply not true, as the City would have it, that there is no room at the inn for Delta,” Delta attorney Kenneth Quinn wrote in the letter to Dallas Director of Aviation Mark Duebner. “The truth is, the City decided the available gate space should go to hometown favorite Southwest — which already controls 80% of the gates at Love Field — instead of to Delta, which would have used the gate space to compete with Southwest.”

Duebner insisted that the decision was out of the city’s hands, telling the Dallas Morning News, “Delta knew their lease was expiring in spring, because when the Virgin deal got cut and American entered into that sublease with Virgin, Delta therefore after Oct. 12 did not have anywhere to operate out of Love Field.”

Delta previously leased gates from American Airlines, but American was forced to give up gate space at DAL as a result of antitrust concerns following the airline’s merger with US Airways. Delta has tried and failed to reach agreements with other airlines to borrow underused gates at the airport.

During a Dallas Bar Association program on September 30, one day after the city gave Delta two weeks’ notice to vacate, Duebner responded to accusations that other airlines were conspiring to force the carrier out of DAL, stating:

They’re required to give us gate usage reports every month and we’re going to continue to monitor. If it appears like this was a thinly veiled attempt from United and Southwest to come to an agreement and say they were going to use the gate only to keep Delta from being able to be accommodated, that’ll become apparently fairly quickly.

[Photo: iStock]

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