Southwest Airlines has been waiting years for the Wright Amendment to go away. If you’re not familiar, you can read the full version of the Wright Amendment here. If you don’t want to read the full thing, the cliff note version is that after DFW airport was built, Southwest got bent that it couldn’t fly out of Love Field, Dallas’ older airport. The Supreme Court agreed with them and that ticked off the folks supporting DFW. So, the government decided to pass legislation that precluded airlines from expanding at Love Field. Because that was really in the customer’s best interest and a good use of taxpayer dollars.
Anyway, the government lit some more money on fire fighting about how to repeal the Wright amendment back in 2006 and finally got it resolved, with a lengthy tail until October, 2014 before direct flights outside the original constraints would be allowed. And here we are, with Southwest announcing new non-stop service from Dallas Love Field to:
- Baltimore/Washington (BWI)
- Chicago Midway
- Fort Lauderdale
- Las Vegas
- Los Angeles
- Orange County, CA
- San Diego
- Washington, DC (DCA)
I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the list personally, but from a business standpoint it’s a great way for Southwest to go toe-to-toe with American, who has a massive hub at DFW. They can certainly attract business travelers on these routes and also build a decent market for leisure travel, though mostly on a connecting basis (think Denver to Disney with a Dallas stop in between).
Personally, I’m bummed they didn’t add Washington Dulles. Not because I want to fly Southwest (just in case there was any confusion) but because United charges brutal rates to Texas on their direct flights and American charges slightly less brutal prices on less frequency.
So, there you have it. One of the last big shoes to drop on massive route network changes. I expect another shuffling between American and US Airways and the fallout from the gates they’re required to surrender. But, other than that, I really just see contraction and expansion along the lines of existing service the airlines offer. Sure, there will be some new routes. Those are much more likely to be exception, not rule.
How do you feel about Southwest’s new routes? Was there one you were hoping for?