Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Will Ris said today: “American Airlines strongly opposes the bill introduced today by U.S.
Senator John Ensign in a press conference held immediately prior to a
press briefing by Southwest Airlines Chairman Herb Kelleher.“The bill is misnamed—it should be called the ‘Southwest Airlines Right
to Fly Act.’ Senator Ensign proposes to give Southwest Airlines the unlimited
ability to fly anywhere from Love Field in Dallas, Texas, and then guarantee
it an unprecedented federal monopoly by limiting the right of other carriers
to acquire facilities and operate flights from Love. He does so by assuring
that the Love Field Master Plan, which limits growth and competition at Love,
remains in place while Southwest is free to fly anywhere from an airport in
which it already has a virtual monopoly today.
“Senator Ensign ignores the fact that North Texas airline service has been
completely open to competition for decades. Southwest has chosen not to fly
nationally from DFW International Airport for the past 30 years.
“There are no provisions in the bill that would facilitate the
introduction of service by other carriers at Love, assure equal access to the
airport, provide for the building of new gates or terminals, require Southwest
to make facilities available to other carriers in the absence of new gates, or
in any way encourage competitors to enter the market. It makes no reference to
the fact that, in stark contrast, more than 20 gates remain immediately
available just a few miles away at DFW International Airport for the benefit
of Southwest or any other carrier that wants to fly from that facility.
“Moreover, the bill only responds to the intense lobbying effort of
Southwest to change the rules that it once agreed should never be changed. It
does not propose to lift operating restrictions imposed on other airports in
the nation, such as Washington’s Reagan National and New York’s LaGuardia
airports. In short, the bill exclusively benefits one airline, while limiting
the ability of all others to compete with that airline on its home turf.”