Last updated: 11:49 AM ET, Tue April 26 2016

Southwest Takes Delta Back to Court over Love Field Gates

Airlines & Airports | Josh Lew | April 26, 2016

Southwest Takes Delta Back to Court over Love Field Gates

The battle between Southwest and Delta for gates at Dallas Love Field is heating up once again. Southwest has submitted an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals claiming that the decision by a district court to allow Delta to stay at Love was unfair. 

The issue has not changed since the last time the two airlines were in court. Southwest has lease rights to the gates at Love Field. Delta has no such rights, but four months ago the judge ruled that DAL could use the gates as long as it continues to pay for them. 

Southwest still wants Delta out of Love Field

In the latest appeal, Southwest claims that it has full rights to use the gates in question because it is allowed to do so under its current lease agreement with Love Field, which is owned by the city of Dallas. The appeal also states that because Delta has no contract with the airport, it had no legal grounds to argue its position in court in the first place. 

READ MORE: FAA Steps Into Love Field Fray

Why does Southwest want Delta out of Love? (And why does Delta want to stay?)

Since its headquarters is located nearby, Love Field is a major hub for Southwest. It operates 180 daily flights out of the airport and controls 18 of the 20 gates. Delta, in comparison, only has five daily flights out of the secondary airfield, which is much smaller than neighboring Dallas Fort Worth International.

LUV’s lease agreement was first signed in 2006. Part of the deal was that the airline would be given a dominant presence at the airport, but it would not be able to fly out of DFW. American Airlines, which has its hub at DFW is, likewise, unable to fly out of Love Field. As of now, Delta is able to use both airports, even though it only uses the equivalent of half of a gate at Love and has a limited presence at AA-dominated DFW.

Regulators and courts usually favor competition

On one hand, Southwest has the lease agreement and it has the argument that Delta is merely keeping its foot in the door at Love so that it can block Southwest from having a monopoly. 

On the other hand, no other major airport in the country is dominated by one airline as much as Love Field is dominated by Southwest. The hub is now among the 25 busiest in the country, and, if Southwest gets its way, all the gates will only be used by one major airline.  

READ MORE: Delta Scores Major Win at Love Field

Despite having a legitimate argument and a “paper trail” to back up their position, Southwest will probably not be able to totally get rid of Delta. Airline regulators have showed again and again that they will make rulings that foster competition in the industry. Thus far, it seems like the courts are taking a similar stance.

Should this latest appeal go in Southwest’s favor, Delta will probably push the case to a higher court. So it seems that no matter what happens in the near future, the battle is far from over. 


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