10.5.05

Tomorrow's newspaper coverage of the DFW "study"

There may be some interesting editorials tomorrow. Meantime this is what's out there so far. And take note of the very slight difference in the headlines. One word. Guess it really all depends on your perspective, eh?

Wright repeal would devastate D/FW, study says
By Bryon Okada
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
D/FW AIRPORT -- If the Wright Amendment were repealed, Dallas/Fort Worth Airport could lose between 14 million and 21 million passengers annually, setting the airport back 20 years, a gloomy new study found.
D/FW Airport also could lose international flights.Traffic at Dallas Love Field could triple as service shifts from D/FW, overrunning nearby neighborhoods with congestion.
The regional economy could lose thousands of jobs as the Metroplex loses its global reach and profile.
It could take D/FW Airport 19 years to recover from the 35 percent decrease in service, said Christina Cassotis, vice president with Boston-based aviation consultant Simat, Helliesen & Eichner.
"We'll see the hub start to splinter," Cassotis said.On the other hand, North Texas travelers would also likely see lower air fares from airlines trying to compete with Southwest Airlines, she said.
The $100,000, D/FW-commissioned study released Tuesday attempts to measure the economic impact of repealing the Wright Amendment, the 16-year-old piece of legislation that restricts long-haul flights at Love Field.
But it also goes further than that, openly advocating the continued growth of D/FW Airport as the region's best economic option.
Recently, officials with Southwest Airlines have been lobbying members of Congress to repeal the Wright Amendment, which limits direct flights from Love Field to Texas and its contiguous states. (A subsequent amendment added three states.)
D/FW and its major tenant, American Airlines, have been trying to convince the same members of Congress that a repeal would be ill-timed and ill-conceived.
D/FW officials say they hope the study will bolster the credibility of their argument that removing the Wright Amendment at this time would further exacerbate the economic instability of the aviation industry -- and communities that depend on the industry."
A repeal of the Wright Amendment has a negative effect, not only on D/FW, but a negative impact on the whole of the North Texas region," D/FW chairman Jeff Wentworth said.
In an extra gig at Southwest, which ironically is an airline D/FW is trying to woo into occupying empty gates in Terminal E, airport officials released several quotes from the airline's former head, Herb Kelleher, that either show support for the Wright Amendment, or indicate an understanding of D/FW's economic position.


Wright repeal would hurt D/FW, study says
By ERIC TORBENSON
The Dallas Morning News
Repealing the Wright amendment would lower airfares in North Texas but also cut service domestically and internationally from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, according to a study released Tuesday.
D/FW would lose 204 flights a day and 21 million passengers per year in the worst-case scenario outlined in the study paid for by D/FW officials.

The study modeled four scenarios relating to different outcomes from the current effort to repeal the Wright amendment.

D/FW Chief Operating Officer Kevin Cox invoked Southwest Airlines Chairman Herb Kelleher's own words in defending the utility of the Wright amendment during a news conference Tuesday.
Mr. Cox quoted Mr. Kelleher as saying that two hub airports competing against each other would hurt North Texas.

"The study provides further evidence that repealing the Wright amendment would be a devastating economic blow to the entire North Texas region," Mr. Cox said. "D/FW is a world-class airport equipped to meet the needs of both domestic and international travelers and grow new business and tourism for Dallas and Fort Worth. Repealing the Wright amendment not only means a huge loss of air traffic, it means a loss of jobs, convention business and economic growth. We need competition between airlines, not airports that are a mere eight miles apart."

Southwest Airlines has said lower fares would benefit the local economy, and it's having its own study prepared. Southwest Airlines officials were not immediately available for comment.
The $100,000 study was done by New York-based Simat, Helliesen & Eichner, an airline consulting firm.Findings include:

  • D/FW will lose substantial traffic — The airport could lose up to 204 daily flights and up to 21 million passengers annually, representing a 35 percent decline. With this substantial loss, D/FW airport passenger levels will decrease to levels last seen 20 years ago and it will take up to 19 years for traffic to recover to current levels.

  • Traffic at Love Field could triple — Love Field operations could triple and Love Field passengers could increase by as many as 16 million passengers a year. Tripling Love Field's use would strain older existing facilities and cause local traffic gridlock.

  • D/FW will lose international air service — Current international air service would be substantially reduced because of a loss of international connecting traffic through D/FW. Flights to Latin America are particularly vulnerable.

  • D/FW would lose domestic destinations — With the repeal of the Wright amendment, up to 15 current markets with low frequency could see service cuts or elimination.

  • D/FW has significant growth capacity — D/FW airport was designed and built to handle 100 million passengers and 1.4 million airport operations annually and can accommodate low-cost carrier growth that won't cost taxpayers more money. In contrast, if the Wright amendment is repealed, costly improvements will be needed at Love Field to accommodate increases in traffic; meanwhile, airport capacity investments already made at D/FW airport will sit idle.

  • Growth at D/FW is the preferred option — The growth of low-cost carrier service at D/FW will add more passengers and more long-term economic growth to the Dallas-Fort Worth area than any scenario in which the Wright amendment is repealed - without disrupting facilities, neighborhoods or taxpayer commitments.

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