18.5.05

Love-area Citizens Slam Repeal

One must question the wisdom of these people. And the stance of the City of Dallas in general. One one hand, we used to live directly under the approach path near DFW and it loud. On the other hand, for a city so intent on bringing in new businesses, it seems like a bad idea to shoot a big middle finger at one of the largest and most distinguished. If we ran an airline where we were restricted at our own home airport and got nothing but the badmouth from everyone in town, we'd consider asking San Antonio or Austin how they'd like to have relocate to their area.

Wright squabble escalates

Dallas: As neighbors fight to keep law, airline expects minimal effect

Saturday, May 14, 2005

By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News

Debate over the Wright amendment is swirling around Dallas-area airports and corporate headquarters and before congressional leaders in Washington, D.C.

But as lawmakers contemplate lifting long-haul flight restrictions at Dallas Love Field, their toughest foes may be found in neighborhoods adjacent to the airport, where residents are no strangers to battling the airlines.

"We intend to use every means at our disposal – it's the full fire drill," said Pat White, co-chair of the 25-year-old Love Field Citizens Action Committee. "If the Wright amendment is taken away, it can't be replaced."

(Yes. It can.)

In November, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines unexpectedly announced that it would seek a repeal of the Wright amendment, which restricts airlines serving Love Field to routes within Texas and its adjacent states. The law – enacted in 1979 to protect Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport from competition – was amended in 1997 to add Kansas, Alabama and Mississippi.

Since that announcement, Sen. John Ensign, R-Nevada, has committed to pushing such a repeal bill. Fellow Republicans, including John McCain of Arizona and Trent Lott of Mississippi, also have expressed interest in it.

American Airlines, the Fort Worth-based industry giant, and D/FW Airport launched an immediate defense of the act, arguing that such a move could cripple the airport and throttle the large but struggling airline.

The Love Field Citizens Action Committee took Southwest's move far more personally.
What residents have dubbed the "surprise attack" on the amendment was viewed as a slap in the face to civic leaders who, four years ago, worked for a compromise with the airline on a number of neighborhood quality-of-life issues.


Success in Houston

Southwest points to Houston's Hobby Airport as an example of its intentions. That unrestricted airport has about 25 more daily departures than Love Field, officials note, and it "peacefully coexists with the larger hub airport George Bush Intercontinental."

Airline officials say increased noise won't be an issue if the Wright amendment is rescinded. The airline retired its loudest planes in January and replaced them with 737-700s, which are quieter and gain altitude more quickly.

"We have refurbished our fleet with new-generation airplanes that emit even less emissions," Mr. Kelly said. "Even with 32 gates, the noise levels will be less" than they are now.

The Love Field Citizens Action Committee has mobilized before, and it will mobilize again, Ms. Palmer said, noting that this is probably the eighth time in 20 years that it has defended the Wright amendment. Neighbors are sending out fundraising letters and accepting donations. They'll head to Washington, D.C., to lobby Congress if they have to, Ms. White said, just as they have before.

"The argument that Southwest's future is being denied, that lifting the Wright amendment is an inevitability – we have never bought that," Ms. Palmer said. "It's our only protection."

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