U.S. Transportation Secretary: Wright Law May Be Outdated

A 27-year-old law restricting flights to and from Dallas Love Field might be outdated, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said Wednesday.

The Bush administration has not taken a position on whether the law should be repealed, Mineta said, and Congress must decide whether to change it.

The law, known as the Wright Amendment, prohibits nonstop flights from Love Field to all but eight states and was created in 1979 to aid the then-new Dallas-Fort Worth airport.

The time for change might have come, Mineta said.

"In a deregulated industry, you wonder whether the Wright Amendment hasn't passed its time."

DFW airport has grown into one of the world's busiest. Southwest Airlines, based at Love Field, renewed efforts in the past year to repeal the Wright Amendment, calling it outdated, protectionist legislation.

Bills in both the House and the Senate to eliminate restrictions on air service at Love Field -- effectively repealing the Wright Amendment -- were sent to committees last summer and haven't emerged.

Missouri became the eighth state exempted from the Wright Amendment last fall, thanks to an amendment added to a transportation bill.

The Omaha Airport Authority board wants the Wright Amendment to be repealed, said Don Smithey, executive director of the authority.

The law prevents Southwest from establishing nonstop flights between Omaha and Dallas, which Smithey said could create competition on the route and result in lower airfares.

"I certainly agree," Smithey said of Mineta's statement. "The secretary of transportation obviously is well-known on Capitol Hill and hopefully would lend the assets of his good office to convince Congress to bring it to a vote."

Last year about 50,000 passengers flew from Dallas to Eppley.

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