U.S. Rep. Joe
Barton (R-Ennis) and U.S. Rep. Kay Granger (R-Fort Worth) led several
members of the North Texas congressional delegation today in calling for
Southwest Airlines to offer service from DFW International Airport. The
comments were made following discussion of the “Right to Fly” proposal
earlier today in Washington, D.C. In response to suggestions made by congressional leaders, DFW
International Airport reiterated its long-standing offer to Southwest
Airlines to start some level of service, which includes the offer of free
rent for a year and more than $22 million in incentives.
“Southwest Airlines is a great airline, and we have always been sincere
with our offer to assist in any way we can to do what is best for the
North Texas traveler and the North Texas economy,” said DFW Chief
Operating Officer Kevin Cox. “We are willing to sit down at the
negotiating table tomorrow with Southwest and work out a deal that would
be good for everyone and bring additional competition to the Airport that
was built to handle it.”
Cox added the Airport would work with Southwest to take over some or all
of 21 gates idled by Delta Air Lines following its reduction of service
earlier this year. Cox also said the Airport would work with Southwest to
phase in service. “We want to do whatever it takes to make sure Southwest
is successful,” he said.
The Airport has a standing offer to Southwest Airlines and other carriers
to begin or expand service, and the offer was reiterated following a press
conference today on Capitol Hill.
Rep. Barton (pictured above) said the primary reason DFW was created was to boost the North
Texas economy and avoid competing airports in Dallas and Fort Worth.
“That was a good idea then and it is a good idea now,” said Rep. Barton,
adding that the best way to solve the issues is for Southwest to move to
DFW and compete on a level playing field with all other carriers serving
North Texas. “There is a very easy way to do that and that is to have
Southwest fly out of DFW.”
Rep. Granger added: “Representative Sam Johnson this morning said at a
news conference that this was an issue of airlines being able to have the
freedom to fly wherever they wanted. He’s dead wrong. This isn’t a freedom
issue. It’s a local economy issue. There’s an answer to this and it isn’t
repealing the Wright Amendment. The answer is Southwest Airlines moving to
DFW where they will have room to expand and no restrictions.”
Reps. Barton and Granger were joined at the press conference in strong
support of DFW International Airport by Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Flower
Mound) and Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Coppell).
In January, DFW announced a multi-million dollar incentive and stimulus
package that was offered to all major U.S. air carriers to initiate or
expand service at the Airport. The plan included free rent in Terminal E
for one year and up to $22M in other financial aid. The Airport Board—
made up of representatives of Dallas and Fort Worth—voted unanimously
to approve the incentive package. DFW moved aggressively to find a new
tenant or expand service by existing carriers following the decision last
year by Delta Air Lines to “dehub” its DFW operations.
The incentive package was offered to fill those gates and create new
flying choices and competition for North Texas travelers. In previous
discussions, Southwest Airlines has acknowledged that the airline can
compete at DFW and be profitable. Southwest also flies out of multiple
airports in the Los Angeles Basin and in South Florida.