DFW International Airport And Supporters Issue Statements Following U.S. Senate Hearing On The Wright Amendment
WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 10, 2005) – Following the U.S. Senate Aviation subcommittee hearing on the Wright Amendment today, DFW International Airport and its supporters have made the following statements.
DFW International Airport Executives and Board Members
DFW International Airport and the 268,000 men and women whose jobs are tied to this great facility gratefully acknowledge and thank the U.S. Senate Aviation subcommittee for its thoughtful consideration and for the tremendous majority support of the North Texas Congressional delegation.
We think today’s testimony was compelling and highlighted the real issues in this debate. And Southwest Airlines founder Herb Kelleher said it best under oath several years ago, and his words still ring true: “We to have to agree as a matter of logic and principle that if you allowed Love Field to come up as a full-fledged hub in opposition to DFW Airport that indeed air service to the metroplex would suffer.”**
The industry economics that Mr. Kelleher describes are still valid today. And Southwest Airlines has the ability right now to fly anywhere it wants from North Texas without any change in legislation. DFW will continue to urge Southwest to begin long-haul service from our airport and take advantage of our free rent and multi-million dollar incentive package. It is the right thing to do for the North Texas economy, air travelers, and our communities.
**Kelleher Quote: Deposition of Mr. Herb Kelleher in Zamutt v. Skinner, U.S. District Court of California, October 8, 1990 Kevin Cox, Chief Operating Officer Dallas Fort Worth International Airport
We ask all to remember that it was the federal government which directed Fort Worth and Dallas, in the mid 1960s, to close their airports and create DFW International Airport. As a result, Fort Worth closed its airport while Love Field remained open. In Fort Worth, we believe in a handshake - a deal is a deal. Fort Worth has never once wavered from this agreement. This hearing shouldn't be about the Wright Amendment. It should be about why parties to the original deal now want to undo it. This panel should understand that the much maligned and misunderstood Wright Amendment came about in response to the efforts to undo the original DFW agreement, not for any other reason.
Mayor Mike Moncrief City of Fort Worth
The DFW International Airport Board’s top priorities are airline competition and giving North Texas residents more options for travel. Our airport is already home to six lowfare carriers which are setting passenger records and adding new flights on a regular basis. Southwest Airlines can effectively operate and profit at DFW and offer the competition they like to talk about. Today’s hearing made it clear that sound public policy should not favor one company or airline but should be for the good of all. DFW was built by the cities of Fort Worth and Dallas at the request of the federal government to operate one major airport for the benefit of all our citizens. Rest assured this Board is dedicated to doing what is best for the common good.
Jeff Wentworth, Chairman Dallas Fort Worth International Airport Board
North Texas Business and Community Leaders
We have always felt that the more facts and true information a person has, the more inclined they are to support retention of the Wright amendment. Hopefully, members of the U S. Senate and their staffs were able to glean the factual negative impacts of repeal brought out in the hearing.
Dan S. Petty, President and CEO North Texas Commission
Though the Senate hearing focused on the testimony of Gerard Arpey and Herb Kelleher, the Wright Amendment debate is not about the future of American or Southwest Airlines. The important issues are how to instill more competition into the North Texas commercial aviation market and how to protect the huge investment made by the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth at DFW International Airport. The ideal solution would be to close Love Field to scheduled air service. Barring that, keeping the Wright Amendment in place is the 'second best' policy.
Bernard L. Weinstein, Director, Center for Economic Development and Research, University of North Texas (Denton)
The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce supports regional efforts which focus on uniting area communities and regional leadership to bring new and expanded air service to DFW International Airport ensuring the continued success of this vital, regional economic engine that generates more than $14 billion in annual economic activity for North Texas, supports more than 268,000 full time jobs, and serves as the principal catalyst for business and tourism growth for the region.
Any further changes to the 1979 legislative compromise, known as the Wright Amendment, would have a detrimental effect upon DFW International Airport.
The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce supports the continuance of the Wright Amendment and urges the pursuit of efforts to keep the Wright Amendment as currently enacted.
Bill Thornton President, Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce
Why does Southwest Airlines continue to try to rewrite history and not respect the city and state that made it the most profitable airline in the U.S.? Southwest Airlines agreed to the Wright Amendment. It allowed Dallas Love Field to stay open – when it was supposed to be closed – and gave Southwest Airlines a safe harbor where it now enjoys a 97-percent passenger monopoly. The Wright Amendment has allowed Southwest Airlines to grow into the largest domestic carrier in the United States. Today’s hearing made it clear that the Wright Amendment still works – and allowed Southwest Airlines to grow into the largest and most profitable domestic air carrier in the U.S. So what does Southwest do in return? It discriminates against its own neighbors around Love Field and the larger population of North Texas. The airline does not tell the truth about its motives then tries to blackmail the City of Dallas by threatening to move its headquarters.
We should demand more honesty and integrity from Southwest.
Adelfa Callejo, Past Board Member Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
It’s clear after the hearings that this debate is not about airlines, but about how two cities came to agreement about how to handle their air service – and all the airlines agreed to it. Tampering with the Wright Amendment jeopardizes the financial stability of DFW International Airport and could cause a financial meltdown in Fort Worth. The cities of Dallas and Fort Worth overcame a lot of animosity and distrust to cooperate and build DFW – and it’s become the single most powerful economic force for this region. And let’s not forget the federal government got the two cities together in the first place because it only wanted to fund one major airport. We have a world-class facility that benefits millions – Southwest Airlines simply wants to benefit itself. That was also made clear in the hearings.
Monte R. Elliott, Chairman Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce
The Greater Dallas Asian American Chamber of Commerce (GDAACC) reiterates its stance on the Wright Amendment. The Wright Amendment was a comprehensive, thoughtful and fair compromise which if repealed would have a detrimental effect upon DFW Airport at this critical time when the aviation industry remains in economic uncertainty. By its own admission, Southwest Airlines can profitably provide long-haul interstate service at DFW Airport, while retaining its short-haul service at Love Field. Instead of a prolonged distraction to combat efforts against repealing the Wright Amendment, DFW Airport should be allowed to focus on securing expanded and new air service options for North Texas travelers. GDAACC is committed to working with the regional leadership in enabling DFW Airport to remain the economic engine of the region.
Dr. Anant Jain, Past Chairman The Greater Dallas Asian American Chamber of Commerce
Southwest Airlines talks about lower fares, but they need to understand that today we have educated consumers who are using technology to their advantage. Lower prices can be achieved through various search engines (i.e. Cheap Tickets, Expedia, and Travelocity). DFW Airport is an economic engine in North Texas that provides many opportunities for minority and women-owned business, as well as for workforce opportunities. Southwest Airlines is not a member of our chamber and my question would be what chambers in the North Texas area do they work with. Southwest Airlines should more closely evaluate the negative impact that repealing the Wright Amendment would have across North Texas.
Dan Villegas, Chairman Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
The African Chamber of Commerce is pleased to support DFW International Airport effort in promoting progress, prosperity and economic development in the Metroplex. DFW International Airport is a very vital part to the success of many of our citizen’s businesses in the United States. We have over 141,000 Africans that live in the Metroplex and about 1,000 of them travel to Africa on a weekly basis. Over 48 Ambassadors and Ministers have visited the DFW Metroplex area through our Chamber for the past six years. For the continuation of revamping Texas economy, and the attraction of more businesses and tourism, we should leave the Wright Amendment where it is now. If something is not broken, why should we try to fix it. Southwest should take the opportunity DFW proposed to them. "As a family, we stand to gain forever but, divided as strangers we are bound to lose a lot". D/FW we are all behind you all the way.
Samni Akinmulero, President African Chamber of Commerce
The American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Texas has taken a strong position that a contract or an agreement is like a treaty and should not be broken. The cities of Fort Worth and Dallas agreed in the beginning that there would be no competing airports in Fort Worth or Dallas with the long haul flights originating at DFW Airport. This has worked well in the past and is a good model for the future. We believe that Southwest Airlines can be a competitive force flying out of DFW Airport. We do not want to see Love Field closed to commercial flights if The Wright Agreement, originally adopted by Southwest Airlines as a "forever" solution, is repealed. This however is the only option based on the original agreement between the cities of Fort Worth and Dallas.
Gene Bloomfield, President American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Texas
The National Executive Committee of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the oldest and largest Hispanic civil rights organization in the United States, voted to support leaving the Wright Amendment intact and encourage all airlines serving the DFW market to focus on bringing new and expanded air service to DFW International Airport.
LULAC board members based their decision on the concerns of Hispanic residents surrounding Dallas Love Field Airport that repeal or modification of the Wright Amendment would lead to increased air traffic and negative impacts on their quality of life.
Repeal of the Wright Amendment would increase financial pressures on DFW airlines many of which already have serious financial challenges.
Hector M. Flores, National President League of United Latin American Citizens
Regional Airport Directors & Government Leaders
The Abilene City Council recently gave its unanimous backing to a resolution that supports keeping in place the Wright Amendment and limiting Dallas Love Field Airport to its existing short-haul flying. We believe that any attempt to change the Wright Amendment may adversely affect air operations at Abilene Regional Airport through reduced Federal Airport Improvement Program funding opportunities and reduced enplanements. Without the Wright Amendment, I see a strong possibility that flights between Abilene and Dallas-Fort Worth could be reduced. This would have a negative impact on Abilene’s growing economy.
Mayor Norm Archibald City of Abilene, Texas
The repeal of the Wright Amendment would have far reaching effects on air service from Gregg County due to the fact that American would have to reduce flights so they could be more competitive with Southwest at Love Field. Gregg County has only one airline serving our area at East Texas Regional Airport. If we were to lose it or if the service was reduced, it would have major negative effects on our region, economic development, quality of life and many other areas.
The loss of air service to East Texas Regional Airport would be devastating to the Gregg County area. The growth and economic development of the area is largely dependent upon vital transportation, and air service is a big part of that transportation picture. We need to seriously consider the effect that the repeal of this amendment would have on the smaller communities of
East Texas. Virginia Hall, Airport Director East Texas Regional Airport, Longview, Texas
American Airlines has been a terrific partner with the City of Laredo and our community wishes to continue this successful relationship. DFW needs to continue to be a strong hub airport. This will ensure that regional airports, such as Laredo's, continue to be linked globally and continue to meet the travel needs of its citizens. Thank you for your leadership.
Jose L. Flores, Airport Director City of Laredo, Texas
The six flights from DFW to Easterwood Airport have a significant effect on the economic well being of Texas A&M University and the Brazos Valley. To reduce the number of flights leaving DFW would negatively impact the status that DFW enjoys as a first class major airline hub. We are proud and thankful that we have service to an airport with the facilities that DFW offers our passengers and want to be able to continue this relationship in the future.
John Happ, Mayor Pro Tem Bryan-College Station, Texas
This is not about two competing airlines. This is about airports. The two airlines will survive regardless of the decision. But if the decision is to repeal the restriction, D/FW Airport and nearly one hundred smaller airports and their communities will suffer primary and secondary economic impacts. I implore you to keep focused on the only potential losers in this debate—the airports and their communities. If it were possible to sum their losses along with the cost to the government to provide limited air service where it will be vacated, I have no doubt the total would far exceed any local benefits to North Texas or other states courting a Dallas-based discount airline. The longer-range effects will be to reduce access to the air transportation system for areas of the country that need it the most while adding to the congestion and delays that all ready plague the airspace near our major hubs. The price of repeal is too high for too many.
Stephen Luebbert, Airport Director Texarkana Regional Airport, Texarkana, Arkansas-Texas
A current misinformation campaign states that Southwest Airlines cannot fly to northern destinations from Dallas without Congressional Intervention to repeal the Wright Amendment. This is simply not true. From Dallas Fort Worth Airport (DFW) Southwest can, today, fly to any destination it desires, all without changing any law.
The current issue is about AIRPORTS not AIRLINES. Special Interests are trying very hard to convince you otherwise. They want you to believe that the Wright Amendment is an anti-competitive law that gives certain airlines an unfair advantage. In fact, taxpayers are subsidizing Southwest Airlines because Love Field, Southwest's exclusive home base, gets millions of federal dollars every year. Southwest wants you to continue their federal subsidy that directly undermines the national hub and spoke transportation system which provides the only air service to the vast majority of the traveling public.
Craig Williams, Airport Director City of San Angelo
The Lawton-Ft. Sill Regional Airport has been identified as one of the many airports that could be affected if the Wright Amendment is repealed. The City of Lawton, the Lawton Chamber of Commerce and the Lawton Airport Authority have adopted resolutions opposing this action. One airline may stand to gain from this legislation, but small airports and their communities stand to lose significantly. The repeal of the Wright Amendment will hurt small airports, and it will increase the demand on government resources to subsidize formerly stable airports.
The Wright Amendment was enacted to protect the viability of the DFW Airport, which many small airports depend on and it should be left in place. It is not an issue of competition but an issue of survival for many communities.
Barbara McNally, Airport Manager Lawton Ft. Sill Regional Airport, Lawton, Oklahoma