Sheryl Jean updates us on the drama going on between Southwest and Delta along with United, the federal government, and the city of Dallas over gates at Dallas’ Love Field.
In Dallas Finds Itself Between Scylla and Charybdis: No Matter What Happens With Love Field Gates They’ll Be Sued I explain the story so far.
Dallas Love Field has 20 gates. They are legally forbidden to build more.
…Until recently Southwest controlled 16 of 20 gates. United controlled 2 and American 2. American leased its gates to Delta.
As part of the concessions for American’s merger with US Airways, the federal government required American to give up its Love Field gates. That would supposedly increase competition at Love Field, even though American didn’t fly from there. This set off a chain reaction that has left the airport in chaos and threatens to reduce competition there.
American’s gates were ordered to Virgin America. Delta, now in need of gates, leased United’s. But United offloaded their gates to Southwest, which wants to use the gates themselves. And that leaves Delta without a place to park planes…
The FAA has declared that all existing airlines have to be accommodated at the airport, even though additional gates are illegal.
So the city of Dallas is asking a federal court what to do.
Delta argued in court that it would be disastrous to Delta’s customers and its reputation if they were forced to give up operating at Dallas Love Field (where they do not have a lease for gates). They’d have to reaccommodate passengers with future bookings. Of course it’s Delta that has continued to sell tickets to those customers for flights without a lease for gates there.
And Southwest claims,
Delta previously has shifted passengers without any problems from flights at Love Field to flights at D/FW Airport.
Delta contends that if a court forced Southwest to alter its schedules, then Delta’s flights could be accommodated across gates at the airport.
Delta also did a “gate plot” analysis fitting its five flights plus its plan to offer eight more flights into Love Field gates based on Southwest’s published flight schedule, assuming at least 30 minutes of ground time between flights.
“We concluded there was plenty of space at Love Field,” Esposito said. “It all fit.”
However, he acknowledged that 10 slots did not provide enough ground time and where schedules would have to be tweaked.
Of course, testimony shows that United offered a deal for gates to Delta last September “and Delta didn’t want it.” They didn’t want to pay what United wanted, and now they want the court to give it to them on their own terms. Southwest paid $120 million plus monthly rent to United for those 2 gates.
Delta’s contention is that the gates are so valuable to Southwest precisely because if they hold 18 of 20 gates at the airport that reduces competition and Southwest is able to make more on its flights as a result.
Delta therefore claims the deal is illegal — anything that’s limited and really valuable to a company is thus anti-competitive. I wonder how that squares with all of those LaGuardia slots Delta holds. Just sayin’.
They make a nuanced legal argument that they served the airport already and thus should continue to be permitted to do so, but it’s not clear why that’s a greater benefit than having service at Love Field from – say – an ultra-low cost carrier. And at LaGuardia they paid quite a lot in cash and slots at Washington National airport to US Airways for limited slots, where competition is limited. Once again Delta looks to the government for their own advantage. Here they talk about wanting more competition and consumer choice — but at the same time they ask the government to limit consumer choices and raise prices in international markets.