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AA Threatens to Hub at Love Field

Old 02-19-2005, 04:14 PM
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Default AA Threatens to Hub at Love Field

American threatens to build hub at Love Field

Feb. 19, 2005

DALLAS (AP) -- American Airlines is prepared to build a full-fledged hub at Love Field if flight restrictions are lifted from the Dallas airport, even though the move would harm the carrier and the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, American's chief executive said.

Gerard Arpey, American's chairman and chief executive, said the world's largest carrier would have little choice but to split its North Texas operations to remain competitive if the Wright Amendment were repealed.

Southwest Airlines is urging lawmakers to repeal the 1979 federal law that prohibits all but the smallest passenger planes from flying between Love Field and anywhere beyond Texas and seven nearby states.

Because of the law, which is meant to protect the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, Southwest cannot offer direct service to many big U.S. cities, including Los Angeles and Chicago.

"Were the Wright Amendment to be repealed, we would have to build an operation at Love Field because that's where the customers are going to want to go," Arpey told The Dallas Morning News editorial board.

American does not currently use its three gates at Love Field. To create a hub schedule with connecting banks of flights, American would need many more gates, Arpey said.

Arpey declined to say how many flights American would shift to Love Field from DFW, its largest hub. He said the company's response would depend on what the competition did, including how other airlines serving DFW might move operations to an unrestricted Love Field.

Love Field's master plan, which has been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, limits expansion at the airport.

While Arpey said the plan would be invalid if the Wright Amendment were repealed, Dallas Mayor Laura Miller and Southwest officials said it would not be changed.

DFW officials say the Wright Amendment must remain in force to protect a recent multibillion-dollar investment in new facilities. American pays for three-quarters of DFW's operating expenses.

"When you begin to splinter a hub and divest it between two airports, you inevitably lead to the unwinding of everything that has led to this economic engine," said Kevin Cox, the airport's chief executive.

American will fly 819 daily flights from DFW by this summer and is adding several international flights in connection with the opening of a new international-only terminal.
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