Gerard Arpey, American Airlines' chief executive, will square off with Herb Kelleher, Southwest Airlines' chairman and founder, during Senate hearings Thursday over the Wright Amendment, a law that has shaped their respective companies.
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation's Aviation Subcommittee announced its witness list Monday for the hearings. For the most part, they are evenly divided between supporters and opponents of the law, which limits service from Dallas Love Field to Texas and seven nearby states.
Arpey and Kelleher will appear alongside Kevin Cox, chief operating officer and senior executive vice president of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. Arpey and Cox support the law, which was designed to protect D/FW. Kelleher supports its repeal.
The panel will also hear from Sam Coats, former chairman of the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce; Lori Palmer of the Love Field Citizens Action Committee; and two authors of dueling studies on the effect of a repeal: Brian Campbell, chairman of the Campbell-Hill Aviation Group, and Bill Swelbar, managing partner of Eclat Consulting.
Coats, a former executive at Southwest, is an outspoken proponent of repeal, which he sees as giving a boost to the flying public with cheaper fares. Palmer maintains that nearby neighborhoods will be harmed by noise, pollution and congestion from a busier Love Field.
Campbell's widely quoted study, paid for by Southwest, concluded that repeal would save North Texas fliers $688 million in airfares. Swelbar's study, paid for by American, determined that 185 of American's daily D/FW flights to smaller cities would be lost as American moved flights to Love Field.
The panel is considering a repeal bill introduced by Sens. John Ensign, R-Nev., and John McCain, R-Ariz., who are on the committee.
The hearing will be video-streamed online at commerce.senate.gov
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