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Dallas And Fort Worth Announce Wright Compromise

By Bill Zeeble, KERA reporter

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kera/local-kera-516981.mp3

DFW Airport – Bill Zeeble, KERA 90.1 reporter:
Dallas Mayor Laura Miller and Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief agreed that the plan they hammered out over the past few months, and especially in the last few busy days, will be worth it. The amendment which has been in place for 27 years, currently restricts jet service from Love Field to Just 9 states. Miller said the pressure was on not only from hometown Southwest airlines, which wanted the restrictive Wright amendment lifted immediately, but also from the flying public and more than 50 members of Congress.

Dallas Mayor Laura Miller: Congress could have repealed the Wright amendment but there would have been no protection of neighborhoods around Love Field, a dramatic decrease in business and revenues at shared Dallas/Fort Worth Airport and uncertainty for our two cities, which is the villain for business

Zeeble: Once approved by the cities and Congress, the plan will immediately let passengers book Southwest flights from or through Love Field to anywhere in the country. Under the Wright Amendment, Southwest couldn't tell customers about connecting flights. The Wright amendment itself will remain in place for another eight years. Although Southwest wanted it gone immiediately, the carriers long time leader Herb Kelleher said he's still happy.

Herb Kelleher: Eight years seems like a long time, and it seems long, we didn't volunteer that, but we had to weigh it against the possibility that even if you went on a state by state basis with respect to the Wright amendment, that could take 4-5 years. In a sense we kind of subtracted those years from eight years.

Zeeble: American Airlines' Vice President Dan Garton is also pleased with the so-called peace pact, especially since Southwest's home base at Love Field will shrink form the current 32 gates to a maximum of 20. The old Legend Airlines terminal will also be demolished at Southwest's expense.

Dan Garton, American Airlines: It's a much smaller Love Field we're talking about now, than when we were looking at 32 gates. This compromise allows our employees to move forward and refocus our collective energy on our turnaround plan and on serving customers in the best manner.

Zeeble; Fort Worth Mayor Moncrief called this one of the toughest deals the cities have ever participated in.

Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief: This product is probably not perfect. I know you're shocked. Every industry is experiencing some pain. All parties have what I like to say is some skin in the game, but ultimately we have a fair and balanced product.

Zeeble: Southwest will spend up to 200 million dollars to help pay for a Love Field renovation by the time the Wright Amendment ends in 2014. If Southwest or American violates the agreement, it'll lose half its Love Field gates, where Southwest has 16 of the 20. Both mayors said the gate limit will then help control pollution and traffic in surrounding neighborhoods.
They also say their city councils will approve the deal over the next few weeks. Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who urged these talks, said she & her colleagues will push for Congressional approval.

Senator Hutchison: I intend to work very hard on the Senate side to keep this agreement intact, and I hope that our north Texas delegation as much as possible
can remain united in keeping the balance in the agreement.

Zeeble: Mayors Moncrief and Miller hope lawmakers approve the agreement before December 31st. For KERA 90.1 I'm Bill Zeeble
Bill Zeeble's email is bzeeble@kera.org