Tuesday, October 11, 2005

American Airlines' Position on the Wright Amendment

At Jody's wedding this weekend, I learned about American Airlines' PR campaign fighting to keep the Wright Amendment. Joel and Katie flew to Houston from New York on American and Joel saved a page from their inflight magazine with this advertisement.

After reading through this ad and checking out their related website, I couldn't help but wonder why they are investing money in an effort to keep the Wright Amendment if they claim that the amendment is not protecting them in any way. Although it is true that Southwest could offer flights from DFW at vacant gates, why should they be forced to leave their headquarter airport of Love Field in order to be allowed by law to offer flights beyond states that border Texas? It is a very good question.

Certainly, Southwest could offer flights at DFW at any time, but why should they have to invest in any more infrastructure at an additional airport in order to abide by a law designed to stifle the viability of Love Field? Our country claims to be a free market so I say let the consumer decide if Southwest should offer flights from DFW. If Southwest were allowed to increase their destinations out of Love Field, consumers would surely let both Love Field and DFW know how they felt about it simply by volume of travel through the two airports. If consumers don't like using Love Field, they won't. That will settle the matter.

Another important fact that I don't think either side has addressed in the literature I have seen is that of flight delays. It is common knowledge that large airports/hubs are plagued with long delays due to overscheduling. I decided to do a little research and check the report card for DFW and Love Field for the month of July 2005. Here's what I found through the Department of Transportation and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics:

Examining the second line of stats on each of the above pages shows that Southwest beats American Airlines in every category for the month. The volume of Southwest flights is roughly one-fifth of that of American, but still, percentages are percentages. So after looking at this data, my question is, should Southwest subject their better record of on-time flights to the already high volume of activity at DFW? Again, perhaps the consumer should decide, but this will hurt both airlines if they are located at DFW because I wager that all stats will increase as a result of increased traffic.

American Airlines does offer the option of using Love Field as a regional hub and DFW as a national hub. I don't have an issue with the idea in principle, but again this begs the question of why should Southwest develop more infrastructure when it has everything it needs in place at Love Field. Houston has two airports and until earlier this year, Southwest operated in a regional capacity out of Bush Intercontinental Airport. They have since limited their service to Houston Hobby from where they can fly to any of Southwest's 59 other destinations. Houston seems to be surviving with two airports, why shouldn't Dallas be able to as well?

In the end, I'm not convinced that American Airlines is truly accepting of the idea of Southwest moving some or all of it's operations to DFW. They know that Southwest has little or no intention of doing so and are offering up the idea as a token. I have confidence that if Southwest did change course and move operations to DFW, American Airlines would fight it through more legislation rather than through the court of public consumerism. Until then, I am still support an end this archaic piece of legislation and allowing Love free.

Wright is Wrong! Set Love Free!


Anonymous said...

Great post. Our company (based in Nashville) recently moved a department and was trying to decide between Dallas and Ft. Lauderdale. We ultimately chose Ft. Lauderdale, and Dallas' high airfares had a lot to do with the decision.

Anonymous said...

A lot of cities do survive with 2 airports but it is only BECAUSE of restrictions like the Wright Amendment. NYC, Chicago, DC...all three have two airports, but focus on restrictions that keep one "strong" airport, which has been shown to be more beneficial to a cities economy.

Wes Raine said...

My issue with the Wright amendment is that it does not allow airlines operating out of Love Field to service destinations beyond the states that border Texas. It is true that NYC, Chicago and DC all have two airports and restrictions could very well be responsible for their continued success, but Wright seems to be a little too strict. Southwest at Midway in Chicago operates flights to all Southwest serviced cities except Lubbock and Dallas, TX. Lubbock is a small town in the Texas Panhandle, but Dallas is a major city and the headquarters of Southwest Airlines. It's not as if the options on Southwest out of Midway are limited to Detroit, Indianapolis, Louisville and St. Louis. O'hare Airport seems to survive okay with the competition from Midway. Are DFW and Love Field really any different from O'hare and Midway?

Common Sense said...

Deregulation has worked just fine in the rest of the world... it'll work just fine in Dallas.

Just to clarify, there are no other airports in the U.S. suffering from restrictions even remotely resembling those of Love Field. The Wright Amendment was the doing of American Airlines, trying to protect an oligopoly. American's oligopoly has now morphed into a monopoly.

It's time to put this archaic law out to pasture. AA needs to either figure out how to compete or sell itself to a better management team.

Anonymous said...

It's a little more restrictive than for other cities, but not a ton. DC's Reagan airport has similar restrictions so that all long-haul flights must leave from Dulles airport. Unlike in Dallas, the airlines just accept that if they want to do long-haul flights, they need to open some gates at Dulles. If Southwest wants to do long-haul flights, they should open gates at DFW instead of trying to change the rules.

Anonymous said...

There are only two places in the Western Hemisphere which are "off limits" when flying from Washington Reagan Airport:

1) Any airport within Cuba; and

2) Dallas Love Field.

The prohibitions on through ticketing (or even allowing the advertisement of potential connection opportunities) from Love Field are simply bizarre.

Anonymous said...

Why should southwest be forced to move to dfw? Why was american, braniff, twa, eastern, continental, texas international, peidmont, delta, united, et al (not the airline) forced to move from love to dfw? All those airlines had to add infrastructure at a new airport they did not want to serve. Love field was the engine and fort worth's great southwest (located at the site of dfw) was the red headed step child. In the end, fort worth upheld it's agreement and bull dozed GSW. Dallas did what dallas always does - lie, cheat, steal. Dallas should have written in the lease agreements for Southwest to vacate when dfw opened. southwest and dallas planned this fiasco. Dallas and southwest were the only groups to meat with Jim Wright in the creation of the wright amendment. none of the other air carriers at dfw/love had a voice.