Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Now That's the Wright Stuff

I have something good to say about Republicans today, so listen up because this probably won’t happen again for awhile.

Last week Congress voted to gradually scale back the Wright Amendment restrictions that prohibit airlines from flying to distant states out of Dallas Love Field. President Bush is expected to sign the legislation within the next 10 days. This is good news for North Texas, a region that has paid inflated airfares on long-distance flights for years.

The revised amendment will allow airlines to sell through tickets from Love Field to anyplace in the U.S. so long as the flight makes a stop in one of the current Wright Amendment states, which are Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Mississippi and Alabama. The amendment will be eliminated altogether in 2014, but gate restrictions at Love Field will always keep the airport from usurping D/FW Airport's role.

This compromise should keep Southwest Airlines firmly ensconced at their Love Field hub, which is good for Dallas' tax base. It may also prompt Southwest to fill in their national route map by expanding into hub airports like Memphis, Cincinnati and Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Given current population growth patterns, an increasing proportion of the Metroplex will be closer to D/FW than Love Field by 2014. All of the exploding northern suburbs like Frisco and Allen now have easy access to D/FW via the new George Bush Turnpike, too.

Although D/FW is still hurting from Delta closing its hub there last year, their anti-competitive bellyaching failed to strike a chord with anyone not directly or indirectly vested in American's massive D/FW operations. People who actually have to pay money to fly overwhelmingly supported repealing the Wright Amendment.

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