North Texas Congressional Leaders Call For Southwest Airlines To Offer Service From DFW International Airport
Airport Reiterates Free Rent, $22-million Incentive Offer
DFW INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Texas (May 26, 2005) — U.S. Rep. Joe Barton (REnnis) 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 Southwest 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 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 $22-million 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.