Southwest Airlines will change its Omaha-Dallas flights in March so that passengers no longer will have to change planes in St. Louis.
The three flights still will stop in St. Louis, but passengers will continue on the same plane, said Don Smithey, executive director of Omaha's Eppley Airfield.
The through service will be more convenient than one-stop service, which required passengers to get off one plane and board another, Smithey said.
Southwest began advertising the Omaha-Dallas one-stop service in October after the 1979 Wright Amendment was repealed and its ban on long-haul service from Dallas Love Field was partially lifted.
The ban will be completely eliminated in 2014, opening the door to nonstop flights from Love Field to anywhere in the United States.
"In eight years, for sure, we'll have nonstops to Dallas Love," Smithey said.
Southwest officials have told Smithey that Eppley will receive nonstops, he said.
"Anything's possible, but based upon what I know right now, if the market would support it right now, it will support it in eight years."
Competition from the advertised one-stop Omaha-Dallas service has had an effect on competitor American Airlines' fares, Smithey said.
Before the Wright Amendment's repeal, American's nonstop fares to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport at times reached as high as $1,187.
In November 2005, American's lowest fare for a round-trip seven-day advance trip was $704.
A recent check found that American's seven-day advance fare for its nonstop flight was $179, lower than the lowest fare of $240 offered for the same dates by Southwest.
Smithey noted that fares fluctuate according to demand, time of day and day of the week for travel and what specials airlines are running. Overall, though, fares in the market have become more competitive, he said.
"It's amazing what competition does. That's what it's brought to the Omaha passengers," Smithey said.
Passenger demand has been strong for both airlines, Smithey said.
American has added seats to the route. The airline's five daily nonstop flights now are all on Boeing MD 80s, each of which has about 130 seats.
Passengers have many options from Dallas, Smithey said.
"It's a gateway to the world from DFW," he said. "From Love Field, it's a gateway to the Southwest."
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The Omaha Airport Authority board has urged Nebraska's congressional delegation to push for repeal.
American Airlines, which provides nonstop flights between Omaha and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, opposes changes to the law.
The Bush administration has not taken a position on whether the law should be repealed, Mineta said, and Congress must decide whether to change it.
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