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Wright fight getting ugly!

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Well-known member
Oct 12, 2004
Fight over Wright takes a new turn

[size=+1]American says it may cut flights to small towns if law is repealed

[size=-1]11:57 PM CDT on Wednesday, July 27, 2005 [/size]

[size=-1]By ROBERT DODGE, TODD J. GILLMAN and ERIC TORBENSON / The Dallas Morning News [/size]

American Airlines Inc. officials have begun telling small communities that they may lose highly prized air service if Dallas Love Field is opened to long-haul flights.

The nation's largest airline is dispatching executives from its subsidiary regional carrier, American Eagle, to warn city officials at its 69 destinations about the dangers of repealing the Wright amendment.

DallasNews.com/extra Tracking the Wright amendment: History, opinions, links and FAQs

And they are starting with Texas communities.

Waco City Manager Larry Groth said American Eagle officials met Tuesday with him and Waco Mayor Virginia DuPuy. They asked the two officials to persuade the City Council to approve a resolution opposing the repeal of the Wright amendment.

American says moving flights to Love Field would force it to shrink its D/FW hub. A smaller hub, it says, wouldn't support as many regional passenger flights from smaller cities.

American's tactic is the latest wrinkle in an increasingly hard-fought struggle with Southwest Airlines Co.

The battle over repealing the 25-year-old Wright amendment is now being waged from local city councils to the House and Senate in Washington.

Competing bills to repeal the Wright amendment or close Love Field are pending in Congress.

With the Texas delegation split on the issue, American and Southwest are pitted in a struggle that some participants said could last into next year and beyond.

American spokesman Tim Wagner said the airline is trying to explain the consequences of splitting its 800 daily flights at D/FW Airport with Love Field.

"It is a complicated issue," he said, explaining the carrier wants to show how "pulling just one string on a sweater can start the process of unraveling" D/FW.

A spokesman for Southwest brushed off American's tactic.

"If American threatens to abandon all the cities they've talked about leaving, they might as well liquidate the airline," said Southwest's Ed Stewart. "When you have to resort to these types of scare tactics, it shows that their message isn't getting through."

American's strategy also drew fire from Capitol Hill.

"American Airlines would be far more effective in lobbying if they talked directly to members of Congress rather than blindsiding them with veiled threats of service cutbacks in our districts," said Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco.

Mr. Edwards said he was still researching the issue and would ultimately do what is best for his district and the state. And he had some added advice for American: "I would encourage them to stick to the facts in their lobbying."

Turning up the heat

For smaller cities, regional jet service represents a vital economic link to the world at large. And American's latest strategy is designed to turn up the heat on members of Congress by enlisting the support of local officials.

"It is important to us to have adequate service, and we are always looking for enhanced service," Mr. Groth, the Waco city manager, said.

"I did not feel any kind of strong-arm threats," he said.

Mr. Wagner said American executives aren't trying to pressure local communities: "This is not an issue of making threats or promises."

Calling cards

American officials also have left their calling card in at least Midland, San Angelo and Tyler.

City Manager Harold Dominguez said the San Angelo City Council voted July 19 to oppose the repeal of the Wright amendment.

The council also instructed Mr. Dominguez to contact Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Midland, and the state's two Republican senators.

So far, Mr. Conaway said, the inquiries have not reached his desk. The West Texas Republican said he is still trying to understand both sides of the debate.

Mr. Conaway is also focusing on Midland, which is in a different position from some smaller cities: It enjoys service from both American and Southwest.

"I can paint a scenario where you eliminate the Wright amendment, and Southwest redeploys its planes to someplace that doesn't include Midland," he said.

The same thing could be true for American; it is forced to "change its business model from hub-and-spoke to point-to-point."

Mr. Stewart said cities like Midland needn't worry: "We've said we don't abandon our friends. Our objective is not to shrink service, but to grow new opportunities."

But Mr. Dominguez, the San Angelo city manager, does not see the debate as a competitive issue between American and Southwest.

He is worried about retaining long-sought regional jet service, as well as getting federal funds to build passenger waiting areas and loading ramps.

"We are looking at it more as an airport issue," he said.

Davis Dickson, manager of the Tyler Pounds Regional Airport, said local business and civic leaders in his East Texas community have met with American twice.

"They were hoping to get any kind of support from individuals that might want to respond to their congressman," Mr. Dickson said.

Tyler's congressman, Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert, declined to discuss the issue Wednesday.

Not all local officials are immediately buying American's pitch.

Tyler's Mr. Dickson wonders why American would reduce service to Tyler.

He said the airline's eight daily regional jet flights carry high passenger loads, including many businessmen paying top dollar to travel to East Coast cities.

Indeed, American depends on feeder traffic to fill its long-haul flights from D/FW Airport. According to American's Web site, a midweek roundtrip fare from Tyler to New York's LaGuardia Airport would be $1,346.90.


FWIW, I don't necessarily agree with AA's tactics here. If they really feel that strongly they should just stick with the lobbying.... they are starting to sound like DFW's desperate pleading last week.
Anyone remember Scott Farcuss? (A Christmas story) He bullied Ralphie for years until Ralphie stood up and poped him in the nose. Then he cried like a baby. I guess American finally got popped in the nose and now they are crying like babies.
AA is not going to cut a route if it makes money, sources of revenue are becoming more and more scarce. If Tyler makes money, it'll stay. If Waco and San Angelo don't, they're gone. Sounds like AA's using Wright as an excuse to reevaluate marginal routes. Most likely has nothing to do with Wright. Arrogance is sometimes justified but overall is a sh1tty quality.
roughneck said:
Anyone remember Scott Farcuss? (A Christmas story) He bullied Ralphie for years until Ralphie stood up and poped him in the nose. Then he cried like a baby. I guess American finally got popped in the nose and now they are crying like babies.

Great Analogy -
AA and the rest of the legacies are toast.
AA what a bunch of crying babies. That is fine more cities for SWA to fly to I wish AA would just bring it or not already.
Has this been SWA's strategy from the beginning? To get so big and strong that they now want to change the rules?

Or, do they really think that this is unfair? If they do think it is unfair then why did they agree to continue operations at DAL knowing that they would be under the restrictions of the Wright ammendment?

The fact is that SWA will be profitable with or without the Wright ammendment. On the other hand, it will be very difficult for AA to remain profitable if the ammendment is repealed. Just an observation.

This is over kill, but here goes. First the rules were changed more than five years after DFW was completed. Deregulation, AA, and Braniff led to the rule change. This is not about AA's bottom line, the federal government nor north Texas should be in the business of favoring one airline over the other. They do, which is obvious by reading quotes from Rep Barton or Sen Hutchinson. DFW wants SWA money, SWA doens't want DFW, nor does AA, even though they say come on over. If AA or DFW truely wanted SWA then, AA would move all their operations to the east side of the field and let everyone else use the west, to include the runways. This won't happen of course because AA needs to clog up both sides of the field. AA wants SWA out of North Texas. Hopefully, SWA will contniue operations in Dallas and move it HQ to Houston or Chicago.
OffHot said:
...This won't happen of course because AA needs to clog up both sides of the field. AA wants SWA out of North Texas....

and the reverse isn't true for SWA?!?!

SWA has become what it initially despised, a powerful force that uses political clout to get what it wants.

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