American Shows Off Love Facility

Feb. 21, 2006
American executives also defended the Wright Amendment again and said they would participate in a regional airport authority, if one is created to own both Dallas/Fort Worth Airport and Love Field.

DALLAS -- With less than two weeks until it resumes flights at Dallas Love Field, American Airlines eagerly showed off its newly renovated digs Monday.

American executives also used the news media attention to again defend the Wright Amendment and said they would participate in a regional airport authority, if one is created to own both Dallas/Fort Worth Airport and Love Field. But the American executives questioned whether an airport authority would solve the squabble over the Wright Amendment, which limits service from Love to Texas and a handful of nearby states.

The world's largest airline will regretfully compete at Love Field against Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, which operates about 90 percent of the flights from there, said David Cush, vice president and general sales manager.

American executives have said they would prefer that Southwest bring its long-haul flights eight miles west to D/FW and keep the Wright Amendment intact. Southwest has said it wants to abolish the 1979 law and fly across the country from its home base at Love.

American will compete, regardless of whether it makes a profit at Love Field, Cush said.

"This is not Southwest Airlines' airport," Cush said at a news conference at Love Field while Southwest planes taxied nearby. "As there are further relaxations of the Wright Amendment, we will compete more. There is space at this airport to grow."

So far, 19 of the airport's 32 gates are being used for flight operations.

Southwest has no plans to grow beyond the 14 gates that it's using in the west concourse, said Ed Stewart, a spokesman for the carrier. Its lease allows the low-cost carrier to open seven gates in the north concourse.

"We have what we need to run a successful operation at Love Field," Stewart said.

Since American announced service at Love Field on Dec. 14, the company has spent the past two months fixing up gates 30-32 in the east concourse. Service is expected to start March 2, with 16 daily departures to St. Louis; Kansas City, Mo.; Austin; and San Antonio. The airline has held the leases on the gates for years.

American's first gate is about 1,000 feet, or about a three- to four-minute walk, from the airport's only security checkpoint in the main terminal lobby, said Dean Snyder, managing director of corporate real estate for the airline. Gates are not open to the public yet.

American gave the news media a sneak peek of the space Monday.

In the main lobby of Love Field, American has installed a temporary ticket counter with eight screens for ticketing agents and four self-serve kiosks.

American is building a more permanent ticket counter that ties into a more expensive inline baggage system.

Until that opens around May, passengers will have to lug their checked baggage to a security scanner in the airport's main lobby.

Cush said American will find it difficult to make a profit with its Love Field operation.

But Tim Smith, an American spokesman, added that the airline believes that it would lose more money by not going to Love Field at all.

The airline says 60 percent of its best customers live nearby, particularly in the affluent Park Cities area of Dallas.

Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief and Dallas Mayor Laura Miller have been talking lately about forming a regional airport authority to put control of D/FW Airport and Love Field under one owner.

It's considered the latest attempt to solve the disagreements.

But Cush said American doesn't see how a regional airport authority would solve the problem.

He termed American's position "agnostic."

"If it becomes a vehicle to address this issue, then we'll participate," Cush said. "But forming a regional airport authority in its own right will not solve this problem."

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