Last updated: 11:06 AM ET, Tue August 11 2015

FAA Steps Into Love Field Fray

Airlines & Airports | Delta Air Lines | Rich Thomaselli | August 11, 2015

FAA Steps Into Love Field Fray

What two major airlines – and, apparently, the courts – can’t seem to solve, the Federal Aviation Administration just might.

The government’s airline oversight agency announced Monday it has issued a "notice of investigation" to the city of Dallas, and will examine whether the city failed to assure that Delta Air Lines could continue to fly out of Love Field, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Delta has been feuding with Southwest for months now over access at Love Field, where Southwest controls 16 of the 20 gates. Southwest subleases two more gates from United Airlines and the other two gates belong to Virgin America.

At issue are the two gates subleased from United. Initially, United subleased one of its two gates to Delta. But in January, United decided to sublease both gates to Southwest, and Southwest decided it wasn’t going to be so hospitable. It told Delta it had until July 6 to get out; Delta declined.

The city of Dallas has asked the U.S. District Court to intervene, and the two sparring airlines have both filed suit against each other. U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade convinced Southwest to allow Delta to continue to use its one gate, Gate 15, at Love Field until Sept. 30. 

Now the FAA is getting involved.

“If FAA’s investigation establishes violations of the City’s sponsor obligations and related Federal law, FAA may issue a determination that the City is in noncompliance with its Federal grant obligations in its operation of DAL (Love Field),” the FAA said in its notice of investigation. “As a result, the City could be found to be ineligible to receive new FAA grants and payments under existing grants until this matter is resolved. Further sanctions, including a judicial order of enforcement, are also possible.”

The city has 30 days to respond to the FAA notice of investigation.

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