Julie Dammann, Bond's chief of staff, said it is likely that more senators will seek exemptions for their states as the appropriations bill moves through the process. On Tuesday, Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, and Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Penn., both said they would like their states allowed service from Love.
Ensign's Senate measure ratchets up the repeal effort, which officially began in May when Johnson and Hensarling introduced their "Right to Fly" bill.
Herb Kelleher, Southwest's co-founder and chairman, applauded the Ensign-McCain bill as another step toward terminating what he called a "stupid anachronism."
Phoenix and Las Vegas -- home to McCain and Ensign constituents -- are among the few cities that currently have low-fare service from D/FW. America West, a Phoenix-based discounter, connects that city with D/FW. And AirTran Airways connects D/FW with Las Vegas.
But both cities are major Southwest operations. The Dallas carrier is the largest airline in Las Vegas and No. 2 in Phoenix, behind America West. The airline is a large employer in both communities.
American and D/FW, supported by members of the Tarrant County congressional delegation, say the Wright Amendment is needed to prevent a potential economic downturn at D/FW. A study commissioned by the airport concluded that that facility could lose up to 22 million passengers annually to Love if the restrictions are lifted.
Ris said that Ensign's bill guaranteed Southwest an "unprecedented federal monopoly from Love Field" because growth at the airport is limited by the Love Field Master Plan, which Dallas approved in 2001.
"There are no provisions in the bill that would facilitate the introduction of service by other carriers at Love," Ris said.
Southwest operates 14 gates at Love Field, and can add seven more under the master plan. The plan limits the airport to 32 gates.
American has threatened to move hundreds of flights from D/FW to Love if the amendment is lifted. That would require far more gates than are currently allowed under the plan, and American executives have vowed to file lawsuits if necessary to expand the airport.
Ris stressed that American would prefer the status quo.
"We still believe, however, that it is unnecessary to reverse sound public policy," he said, inviting Southwest to move to D/FW if it wants to operate longer flights.
Hoping to force a vote on the law that limits flights to and from Dallas Love Field airport, Nevada Sen. John Ensign on Tuesday introduced legislation to repeal the Wright Amendment.
The key Senate committee considering the future of the Wright Amendment will hear from supporters and opponents of the law restricting flights at Dallas Love Field at hearings Nov. 10.
What started as a squabble among Texas Republicans over a law designed to expand Dallas Fort Worth International Airport has become a national tug-of-war with lawmakers from about 20 states choosing...