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Part 2: Q & A with Southwest's Gary Kelly on the Wright Amendment (VERY INFORMATIVE)

Juvat

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Part 2: Q & A with Southwest's Gary Kelly on the Wright Amendment (VERY INFORMATIVE)

[font=verdana, arial, helvetica](...Continued from Part 1)


Q. What would you do if the Wright restrictions were lifted today?

A. I think we would begin selling all these points beyond the Wright Amendment, with no additional flights. So we have 117 daily departures today at Love Field. And now you would see Baltimore lighting up on southwest.com, as well as Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, L.A., Florida. And then we'd be able to flow aircraft to those locations so you could stay on the same aircraft.

For example, Birmingham, Ala., was added in 1997 as legally accessible under the Wright Amendment via the Shelby Amendment. And to this day there are still not nonstop flights and not much service between Dallas Love Field and Birmingham, because there aren't enough passengers to justify the flights. The problem is we have no way to flow passengers through Birmingham and beyond. But if you could have a passenger who would fly Dallas to Birmingham and then have that airplane flow on to Tampa, then we could logically support more service.

The opportunities are numerous. And it would actually help most of the cities in Texas. Another example, we opened Pittsburgh in May but San Antonio and Houston have no published service to that market, because so many of their flights flow through Love Field. So that's why you see and hear so many editorials around the state supportive of repealing the Wright Amendment, because it would be good for all those communities as well.

We could add roughly 20 departures a day with the 14 gates we have. Then we'd get busy with a plan to refurbish the other seven gates available.

Q. And what's the key in Congress? Whoever gets the most powerful people on their side?

A. Well, it takes an act of Congress. I know we have the principle on our side. The vast majority of people that get polled, or that you engage in this conversation, agree. We've got virtually every major city editorial board agreeing with that. Most large cities have multiple airports. As an airport user of services, I can tell you that competition is always good. To have an asset that is built, and then, as some have suggested we should close Love Field, well that's just the craziest thing I've ever heard. Most cities would love to have that additional air capacity.

Q. What's the revenue potential for Southwest Airlines if the Wright Amendment is repealed?

A. I don't really know. It's definitely an opportunity for us. It just depends on how fast we grow and how successful we are in stimulating the market, and how much of that we're able to capture. It will be a competitive situation. And that's all good for the consumer. It is not unlike any other new market that we go into. So we're not afraid of the competition.

It's going to be something north of $100 million a year. We do not have a study which adds up to a number, which shows exactly what cities we're going to serve and with how many frequencies. We have steadfastly refused to give a projection, because we really don't know.

Love Field certainly stacks up as a very interesting opportunity. But American has a lot of capacity. That is the issue. I don't know how much or how fast we'll be able to grow, because American does have a very, very significant presence in Dallas-Fort Worth, and they should be proud of that. It's just how do we compete successfully, maintain our profitability, overcome ever-increasing energy prices, and try to do good things for our employees, shareholders and customers.

Q. How long will you fight for repeal?

A. We're not going to let up. Twenty-six years is long enough. And people change their minds. So we'll just keep after it. And there's plenty of support out there for this.
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Mugs

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Ultimately, this Wright Amendment will probably be settled in court. I think this is where SWA will lose.
 

MarylandONE

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Mugs said:
Ultimately, this Wright Amendment will probably be settled in court. I think this is where SWA will lose.
That's what they said about National Airport. Guess what happened?
 

SWAnnabee

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Mugs said:
Ultimately, this Wright Amendment will probably be settled in court. I think this is where SWA will lose.
I thought I read somewhere that SWA has stated that they would never litigate the WA in court.
 

SWAnnabee

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Key Dallas legislator supports Love rules

"But it certainly is getting awfully hot out there on this issue. It just seems things are getting a little out of hand."

By TREBOR BANSTETTER and GORDON DICKSON

STAR-TELEGRAM STAFF WRITERS


IRVING - The congresswoman whose district includes Dallas Love Field said Wednesday that she opposes efforts to repeal the Wright Amendment - a significant victory for officials with American Airlines and Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, also said that if the repeal is successful, she would sponsor a bill to close the Dallas airport, home to Southwest Airlines, to commercial flights.

"The people who live in my district don't want more air traffic," Johnson said during a news conference Wednesday.

Johnson is considered a crucial player in the debate over the amendment, which limits commercial flights at Love to nearby destinations. She is the only local representative who sits on a key aviation subcommittee in the House of Representatives.

Her new position is a significant departure from her previous stance. She had pushed for a meeting among local leaders to negotiate a compromise. In June, she said she favored a gradual lifting of restrictions at Love, with some new Southwest traffic at D/FW as well.

Gerard Arpey, American's chief executive, said he was "incredibly encouraged" by Johnson's new position. "Her conclusions on the topic carry significant weight," he said in a statement.

The Wright Amendment is a 1979 federal law that restricts flights from Love Field to Texas and the states that border it. Subsequent legislation permits flights to Alabama, Kansas and Mississippi.

The Wright Amendment was originally brokered as a compromise to protect then-new D/FW Airport from competition while allowing Southwest limited access to Love. The amendment today effectively prevents low-fare Southwest from competing with American on long-haul flights because Southwest refuses to fly out of D/FW Airport, favoring the smaller, less-congested Love.

American, meanwhile, operates a major hub at D/FW and has strongly opposed any change in the law, as have airport officials. Southwest executives say the law is anti-consumer and argue that fares would fall dramatically if the restrictions are lifted. They began a campaign late last year to have the restrictions eliminated.

Fares at D/FW on long-haul routes are 26 percent higher than the national average, according to the U.S. Transportation Department.

American has said it would shift hundreds of daily flights to Love if the amendment is repealed, and D/FW says it could lose millions of passengers annually.

Bills introduced this summer in the U.S. House and Senate would repeal the amendment outright, and other measures would exempt Missouri and Tennessee from the restrictions. Another recent bill would close Love to commercial traffic if the restrictions are lifted.

Until Wednesday, most observers believed that Southwest had the momentum in Washington, with several high profile lawmakers, including Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz, and Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., co-sponsoring bills.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, also said recently that he supports eliminating the restrictions.

And Southwest's recent blitz of television advertising on the issue, which began last week, has presented the case for repeal to millions of North Texas viewers.

So Johnson's position gives Wright defenders a much-needed boost.

"She has sway on both sides of the aisle, and she is a particularly good spokesperson on this," said Kevin Cox, D/FW's chief operating officer. "She's a strong and coherent voice on the issue."

American union leaders also praised Johnson. Ralph Hunter, president of the Allied Pilots Association, which represents American pilots, lauded her "political courage," given that Southwest and Love are in her district.

At her news conference, Johnson said the risks of lifting the amendment are too great, calling D/FW a crucial part of the regional economy. She also expressed concerns about additional noise and traffic in neighborhoods near Love Field.

When asked why she thought Southwest was being so aggressive in its campaign, Johnson replied, "I have no idea, except they're the most-profitable airline and they want to rule the world."

Southwest executives blasted Johnson for what they labeled as a change in position.

"Why the congresswoman took this position defies logic," said Ed Stewart, a spokesman. "There obviously wasn't much thought given to the fact that Southwest is one of the top taxpayers in the city of Dallas, the thousands of jobs we provide or the millions of dollars we bring to the community in economic development."

Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Plano, who has co-sponsored a bill to repeal the law, said Eddie Johnson's position was "reckless and wrong" and attacked her for threatening to close Love Field.

"Talk about a dumb idea!" he said in a statement. "In Congress, we take an oath to protect and serve the people, not hurt them."

Sam Johnson dismissed Eddie Johnson's position as "not a big deal" and predicted that it would have little effect on the movement in Congress.

Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Flower Mound, a staunch defender of the amendment, expressed dismay over the deep divisions among Texas representatives in the House.

"My disappointment was that we in the Texas delegation didn't sit down as a family and work it out, arm-wrestling in the kitchen instead of brawling in the front yard," Burgess said in a meeting with reporters and editors at the Star-Telegram.

His real worry, Burgess said, was a legislator quietly slipping a measure gutting the amendment into an omnibus bill.

To prevent just this, he has instructed his staff to carefully comb bills for any such measure so he won't inadvertently vote to repeal the Wright Amendment.

Dallas Mayor Laura Miller, meanwhile, said she is "very opposed" to closing Love Field. Miller said she still hopes that the issue can be negotiated but acknowledged that the rhetoric from both sides has intensified.

"I still remain rather naively optimistic that [a compromise] is possible," she said. "But it certainly is getting awfully hot out there on this issue. It just seems things are getting a little out of hand."

Last month, Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief said he didn't want to negotiate, but if that were to happen, the issue of closing Love Field should be included in the discussions.

Shares in Southwest Airlines (ticker: LUV) closed at $13.76 Wednesday, down 11 cents. American (ticker: AMR) closed at $13.49 per share, up 34 cents, or about 2.5 percent. 2.59% -dmp

 

C-21Pilot

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Excerpts From D Magazine

[font=verdana, arial, helvetica]From D Magazine[/font]
[font=verdana, arial, helvetica]

If memory serves, doesn't Rep. E.B. Johnson's sister have a substantial concession at DFW? Not that that made the Dallas Morning News article or played any role in her decision to oppose the repeal of Wright or anything.
I don't know about her sister, but check out what this Congressional Black Caucus site says:

Johnson is the founder of Eddie Bernice Johnson and Associates, a business consulting firm. Under her leadership, the company was selected as one of eleven minority and women-owned businesses to be located in the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

The woman owns a business that does airport concession management. Yeah, that seems worth noting.



Tim Rogers · August 10, 2005 04:29 PM


BACK TO YOU, BRIAN SWEANY


Nancy Nichols · 05:07 PM

RE: EBJ'S SUPPORT OF AA OVER SW

A law-practicing FBvian has done his homework and offers us a few more details about Rep. Johnson that are worth knowing with your head:

Of course, the upside of any legislation introduced by Eddie Bernice Johnson is that it's guaranteed to die in committee. How can I predict that? Of the 12 bills that Johnson has sponsored in the current session of Congress, none have become law. But this session is only eight months old, so maybe it's not a fair test. What about the last session?

Well, Johnson sponsored 21 bills in the 108th Congress--the session of Congress from 2003-2004. Of those, precisely one became law. How far-reaching was that legislation? Well, I guess that depends on how important you think it is that a post office on Kiest Blvd. was renamed as the "Dr. Caesar A.W. Clark, Sr. Post Office Building."

So when Eddie Bernice Johnson threatens to sponsor legislation, I'd say that almost defines the term "empty threat."

And, as an aside, I'm sure that EBJ's position on Wright vs. Wrong has absolutely nothing--nothing--at all to do with the fact that she's recieved almost $20,000 in political contributions from AA during her congressional career (her fourth-largest corporate contributor and 12th-largest non-individual contributor).


Contributions to EBJ from SWA? $0.


But I'm sure that's entirely coincidental
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C-21Pilot said:
Excerpts From D Magazine

[font=verdana, arial, helvetica]From D Magazine[/font]
[font=verdana, arial, helvetica]

If memory serves, doesn't Rep. E.B. Johnson's sister have a substantial concession at DFW? Not that that made the Dallas Morning News article or played any role in her decision to oppose the repeal of Wright or anything.
I don't know about her sister, but check out what this Congressional Black Caucus site says:

Johnson is the founder of Eddie Bernice Johnson and Associates, a business consulting firm. Under her leadership, the company was selected as one of eleven minority and women-owned businesses to be located in the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

The woman owns a business that does airport concession management. Yeah, that seems worth noting.



Tim Rogers · August 10, 2005 04:29 PM


BACK TO YOU, BRIAN SWEANY


Nancy Nichols · 05:07 PM

RE: EBJ'S SUPPORT OF AA OVER SW

A law-practicing FBvian has done his homework and offers us a few more details about Rep. Johnson that are worth knowing with your head:

Of course, the upside of any legislation introduced by Eddie Bernice Johnson is that it's guaranteed to die in committee. How can I predict that? Of the 12 bills that Johnson has sponsored in the current session of Congress, none have become law. But this session is only eight months old, so maybe it's not a fair test. What about the last session?

Well, Johnson sponsored 21 bills in the 108th Congress--the session of Congress from 2003-2004. Of those, precisely one became law. How far-reaching was that legislation? Well, I guess that depends on how important you think it is that a post office on Kiest Blvd. was renamed as the "Dr. Caesar A.W. Clark, Sr. Post Office Building."

So when Eddie Bernice Johnson threatens to sponsor legislation, I'd say that almost defines the term "empty threat."

And, as an aside, I'm sure that EBJ's position on Wright vs. Wrong has absolutely nothing--nothing--at all to do with the fact that she's recieved almost $20,000 in political contributions from AA during her congressional career (her fourth-largest corporate contributor and 12th-largest non-individual contributor).


Contributions to EBJ from SWA? $0.


But I'm sure that's entirely coincidental
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Thanks for this post
 
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