27.5.05

New Hampshire Rules!

Live Free or Die. It's their state motto. It's printed on their friggin' license plates. And they walk the walk. Check this piece from the New Hampshire Union Leader:

Set Southwest free: Kill the Wright Amendment

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES is largely responsible for making Manchester Airport the travel destination it is today. So says Airport Director Kevin Dillon, and he ought to know. Now New Hampshire can pay the airline back for all the tourism and business dollars it has brought here, and for the low-fare flights it has offered Granite State travelers, by supporting the repeal of an unfair, anti-competitive law that was written expressly to harm Southwest.

The law is called the Wright Amendment. It was written in 1979 by Jim Wright, then the House majority leader, who was later to resign as speaker of the House amid an ethics scandal. Wright was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and represented that city in Congress. The law, which was passed as an amendment to a must-pass bill, banned any commercial airline from flying from Love Field in Dallas to any airport outside of a seven-state region surrounding Texas. At the time, Southwest Airlines was beginning interstate operations — from Love Field. The upstart airline threatened American Airlines, based next door at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport.

Chris Williams, vice president of economic development and advocacy at the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, is from Amarillo, Texas. By prohibiting a direct flight from Manchester to Love Field, the Wright Amendment costs Williams hundreds of dollars a year. He told us he’d love to take a direct Southwest flight to Dallas, but can’t because of the law. Williams, like more than half of New Hampshire’s population, is not a native Granite Stater. The Wright Amendment costs him and numerous other New Hampshire residents thousands of dollars by closing the North Texas market, which would provide connections to the entire American West if the law allowed, to New Hampshire’s most popular airline.

Granite Staters are lucky that Texan Jim Wright came up with that protectionist law. It easily could have been Bostonian Tip O’Neil. Imagine if federal law prevented flights from Manchester to any destination outside New England. We would consider that outrageous. The Wright Amendment is no less an outrage, and it must be repealed.

Senators Judd Gregg and John Sununu should help their home state, and travelers throughout America, by co-sponsoring legislation to repeal the amendment, which is nothing but brute protectionism for the world’s largest commercial airline — American Airlines. Southwest has done a lot for New Hampshire. We should return the favor and support repealing this unjustifiable and economically harmful law.

To quote the guy in the Dodge commercial: "Sweeeet."

1 Comments:

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