12.5.05

GUEST BLOGGER: Clyde Picht

Clyde Picht is the outgoing Forth Worth City Councilman representing District 6. He is respected by many (including some of us) as the sole voice of reason on the Fort Worth Council. We don't always agree with him, but we always value his opinion.

The Amendment is Wright. The argument is Wrong.

Regarding House and Senate action on the Wright Amendment, we most assuredly have not heard the last of it. In all the confusion, I am not sure that we realize just what is relevant and what isn't. Here are a few of the arguments I have heard during the debate which I have chosen to succinctly rebut or endorse or on which to cleverly obfuscate.

It's anti-competitive. Wrong.
It protects American Airlines. Not the argument.
It helps maintain high ticket prices. Wrong.
If repealed, safety will be compromised at both airports. Wrong.
If repealed, delays will be longer at both airports. Sometimes.
It has served its purpose and should be repealed. Depends.
It forces Dallas to comply with a previously agreed upon pact. BINGO.

When the Federal Government agreed to build a new regional airport with the cities of Fort Worth and Dallas, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) and the two cities agreed that all interstate (state to state) air carriers would use DFW and abandon operations at Love Field and Amon Carter or Greater Southwest (GSW) Airport. The CAB reasoned, no doubt, that due to the high cost of construction, it would be counter-productive to allow airlines to continue to operate out of existing city airports. Fort Worth agreed and subsequently demolished GSW. GSW had been proposed as a regional airport but was never given support by Dallas. All interstate carriers agreed to operate out of the new DFW Airport but Southwest Airlines was operating as an intrastate (within state) carrier under the authority of the Texas Aeronautical Commission and continued to operate from Love Field.

When Southwest sued to begin interstate operations out of Love Field, it won because it had not been a party to the original agreement establishing DFW, the CAB had been replaced by Department of Transportation, and airlines had been deregulated. To protect (or enforce) the agreement between the cities the Wright Amendment was passed. Southwest has always had the opportunity to move to DFW and compete on the same footing as the other carriers, but with a lock on Love Field who could blame them for staying put and tolerating the inconvenience of not flying interstate? So competition is a phony argument.

American Airlines moved its headquarters to Fort Worth in 1979 and began to expand operations at DFW. The Wright Amendment was passed in 1986. American has reached its prominent position at DFW by excelling in management and service. American and its competitors can't move to Love Field because they agreed contractually to operate from DFW. They could move anyway, and American has the gates and terminal space at Love, but they'd be sued by DFW. American, United, TWA, and all the others can argue that Dallas is blocking competition by wanting to allow only Southwest to operate from Love Field. Somewhat analogous to Fort Worth allowing only one cab company to serve Fort Worth.

Obviously, ticket prices are set by free market forces. It is frequently said that ticket prices at DFW would drop if the Wright Amendment were repealed. Even if they did, it is equivalent to allowing one taxi company to park at the hotel front door and requiring the competitor (if the city is lucky enough to have one) to park a block away. The advantage accrues to Dallas travelers. What if prices don't drop at all? What kind of differential would induce you to drive to Dallas from Tarrant County? If Southwest Airlines were forced to operate from DFW (an inconvenience to Dallas travelers), then ticket prices would be competitive on competing routes. That would require Southwest to abandon its niche. But that is a business decision, not a political decision.

The safety factor is moot. The FAA has separation standards that apply in different circumstances and which aircraft operate from what airports isn't an issue. At least not to flying travelers. Those on the ground near the airport might have more cause for concern. Timely arrivals and departures is an issue. When weather conditions require the greatest separation between planes, more traffic in and out Love Field could cause delays in and out of DFW. More people would be affected who are flying in and out of DFW because that's where the intercontinental traffic operates with aircraft carrying 150-400 people versus 50-100 on the aircraft operating at Love.

If the city of Dallas were to limit the use of Love Field to non-airline aircraft, there would be no need for the Wright Amendment. That's not too likely because there is strong support in Dallas for commercial air service from Love to major cities outside Texas. Some want to have their cake and eat it. Some politicians may feel that they can win votes by reducing air fares in and out of Dallas, and they probably can. The pact between Fort Worth and Dallas is a business agreement intended to concentrate competition among airlines at a regional airport serving the DFW metroplex. DFW provides high volume domestic and international traffic with maximum safety. Love Field is limited in growth potential and operates over a large metropolitan area with close proximity to the airport. It is environmentally deficient and marginally safe in the event of a landing or takeoff accident. It should be limited to general aviation.

This is not a question of free market competition. That exists at DFW, though not at Love Field. This is not a question of ideology. If it was, local contracts without federal intervention would carry the argument. This is a question of whether a mutual agreement to create economic growth and development throughout the Metroplex should be compromised to benefit the travelers who want to save money and fly direct to Dallas. This is a question of federal intervention in a local agreement.

There is a solution:
Repeal the Wright Amendment.
Force all interstate air carriers to operate from DFW.
Equalize representation on the DFW Airport Board between Fort Worth and Dallas.


Will Dallas agree to agree? Not likely.

It is very difficult to say, with any certainty, what will happen with Wright repealed, but a best guess would be that it's a win for Dallas and a loss, or at best, a break even for Fort Worth. We're surely going to find out.

Footnote. What do I know that others don't. Not much, but I do have the experience and perspective of a fighter pilot, transport pilot, FAA licensed air traffic controller, manager of communications and air traffic control facilities, and flight instructor for a major airline. And, of course, city council members know it all.

What the.......?

Why in tarnation would DFW be the site of this press conference? Its about seatbelts on the roadways not in the air. Perhaps they now paying the state to help keep the DFW name in the news? Or may their penchant for PROTECTION extends even to inane laws designed to protect us from ourselves.


For Immediate Release: May 12, 2005

"CLICK IT OR TICKET" SEAT BELT ENFORCEMENT CAMPAIGN FOR NORTH TEXASKICKS OFF AT DFW INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

More Than 30 Area Police Departments To Join Campaign; Special Emphasisin 2005 on Teens, Pickup Truck and Rural Drivers

DFW INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Texas (May 12, 2005) - Police departmentsfrom across North Texas will be joining forces with the nationwide ClickIt or Ticket 2005 Mobilization, running from May 23 to June 5. DFWInternational Airport today hosted the kickoff event for the North Texascampaign, with representatives from about 30 local law enforcementagencies on hand to announce they will increase enforcement of Texassafety belt laws over the Memorial Day weekend.

The goal of Click It or Ticket is to boost the rate of safety belt useamong North Texas motorists and to reduce fatalities.

"Because we've seen first hand the severe injury and death that oftenresult from not wearing a safety belt, we will be showing zero tolerancefor anyone not buckled up," said Alvy Dodson, DFW vice president ofpublic safety. "We want everyone on the road to remember to buckle up -every trip, every time."

Teenagers and young adults, and those driving pickup trucks, and livingin rural areas are particularly at risk. Motor vehicle crashes are theleading cause of death for teens and young adults in the United Statesfrom age 16 through 34, and safety belt use by pickup truck occupants isabout 70 percent, among the lowest for any demographic group. Safetybelt use in rural areas was a little better at 76 percent in 2004, butstill below the national average. As a result, special emphasis will beplaced on teenage drivers, pickup truck drivers and rural motoristsduring the 2005 campaign.

"This isn't about just having to obey a law, it's about doing the rightthing to safeguard yourself and your children," said Jim Crites, DFW'sexecutive vice president of operations. "We all love our children andsometimes that means telling them to do something that may inconveniencethem."

For the past several years, the National Highway Traffic SafetyAdministration has helped states implement the Click It or Ticketprogram across the country, aiding law enforcement agencies inconducting intensive, high-publicity Click It or Ticket campaigns withincreased enforcement of safety belt laws.

The Click It or Ticket efforts are an effective tool in raising safetybelt use rates. In 2004, the Mobilization efforts helped to increase thenational belt use rate to a record high of 80 percent. The combinationof active law enforcement, coupled with paid advertising and communitysupport has proven to be an extremely effective means for increasingsafety belt use - and saving lives - across the country.

More than 30 law enforcement agencies in North Texas will take part inthe stepped up patrols, including police departments in Arlington, Azle,Bedford, Benbrook, Blue Mound, Boyd, Burleson, Colleyville, Decatur,Dublin, Euless, Forest Hill, Fort Worth, Glen Rose, Godley, Grandview,Haltom City, Hudson Oaks, Hurst, Jacksboro, Joshua, Keller, Lakeside,Mineral Wells, Pantego, Pelican Bay, Richland Hills, Reno, Rio Vista,River Oaks, Saginaw, Sansom Park, and the UNT Health Science Center.Also taking part are Sheriff's Departments from Hood, Johnson, Parker,Somervell, Tarrant and Wise counties, along with the Granbury DPSoffice.
About DFW International Airport


Located halfway between the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, DFWInternational Airport is the world's third busiest, offering nearly1,800 flights per day and serving 57 million passengers a year. DFWInternational Airport provides non-stop service to 130 domestic and 37international destinations worldwide. For the latest news, real-timeflight information, parking availability or further details regardingthe many services provided at DFW International Airport, log on towww.dfwairport.com.

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