Dallas May Raise Fees at Love Field

Southwest, Continental and American airlines soon may have to pay more to fly from Dallas Love Field.

Officials for North America's 59th-busiest airport plan to raise its landing fees in order to end losses of $16.5 million that date back to 2001. It's unclear whether travelers will foot some of that cost with higher ticket prices.

Dave Cook, the chief financial officer for the city of Dallas, recommended Monday that the City Council's transportation and environment committee raise Love Field's landing fees from 35 cents per 1,000 pounds of landed weight to 55 cents.

He said its landing fees are among the lowest in the nation compared with similar-size airports. Landing fees at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport are $4.94 per 1,000 pounds of weight landed.

Although all of the committee members agreed with the recommendation, many criticized the airport's handling of its money. The fee increase is set for a full council vote Feb. 22.

After losing $7.6 million in 2001 and $5 million in 2002, the airport is expected to post a loss of $1.9 million for 2005 and $3 million in 2006.

Councilman Ron Natinsky criticized airport officials for raising rates for parking, concession sales and ground leases without raising airline landing fees.

"From a business perspective, I just believe we have the business model turned upside down," he told Cook.

Landing fees -- expected to be $1.7 million -- are the airport's fourth-largest revenue source, generating 6 percent of its revenue budget. Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, drew 34 percent -- or $161 million -- of its total revenue budget from landing fees.

Kenneth Gwynn, the city's director of aviation, said the airport kept its landing fees stable to encourage carriers to switch to quieter planes.

Councilwoman Angela Hunt said the lower incentive rate wasn't needed because airlines were required to change to the smaller aircraft several years ago.

Tim Smith, a spokesman for Fort Worth-based American Airlines, which will begin flying out of Love in March, said the airline might not pass the higher landing fees on to travelers.

"Competition drives fares," he said. "But at the end of the day, you take note of what your expenses are."

Fort Worth Star Telegram

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