Friday, October 07, 2005

More on the Wright Amendment

I feel the need to further clarify my opposition to the Wright Amendment in response to a comment on one of my posts on the subject. The comment was posted today by "Anonymous" but I address this post not only to him or her, but to anyone who doesn't already understand the protectionist law.

I'm not sure who anonymous is, but although we are in agreement as to allowing for direct competition between Southwest and other airlines in Dallas, I don't feel that Southwest is currently in the position to say they have an unfair advantage by operation out of Love Field as opposed to DFW.

Currently, flights out of Love Field by Southwest are restricted to destinations within Texas or states adjacent to Texas and also the Birmingham airport in Alabama. So there are only 16 direct destinations from Dallas-Love Field although Southwest operates flights in 60 cities. Of those 16 flights offered out of Dallas, only 7 of them are to airports outside the state of Texas. So the low cost business model that Southwest strives for is being undercut by the ridiculous Wright Amendment. It is adding to the cost of flights to and from Dallas because it creates extra and in most cases unnecessary layovers and flight connections.

I don't think that moving Southwest's operations to DFW are necessary to allow for competition but rather lifting of this ludicrous restriction on Love Field. Don't believe me? Listen to this price comparison. I randomly chose December 7, 2005 as a day that I would fly one-way from Nashville to Dallas. The search result I got on American Airlines' website was $327.70 for a direct flight to DFW that lasts 2 hours. I checked the same flight origin and destination on Southwest's website and got the following results: The flight from Nashville to Houston is 2 hours. After a 1 hour layover in Houston, the flight to Love Field is an additional hour making the total trip time 4 hours at a cost of $192.40.

Based on the above search, imagine how inexpensive the flight would be if there was an option that went directly from Nashville to Love Field! It stands to reason that such a flight would be comparable to the price of the flight from Nashville to Houston: $137.70. It seems like the Wright Amendment is only making direct flights cost more as a sort of convenience fee for half the flying time. But why should that convenience fee be even close to 80% or more?

I haven't heard one convincing reason why the Wright Amendment shouldn't be repealed. Some, like Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, say that it would harm businesses at DFW. But why is American Airlines charging so much more for the same service? Are you getting anything more for your money? According to Joel, you are not.

Wright is Wrong! Set Love Free!

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