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Wed, Jul 19, 2006

Lawsuit Filed In Wright Amendment Compromise

Comes As Suburb Drops Its Objections To Deal

It was a case of one step forward, one step back this week for supporters of the agreement to end the fight over the Wright Amendment in North Texas... as a major victory was followed shortly afterward by a lawsuit.

But first, the good news for proponents of the deal reached last month between the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, DFW Airport, and American Airlines and Southwest Airlines: McKinney's now onboard.

Officials with the growing suburb about 30 miles north of Dallas had taken issue with a stipulation in the agreement that would discourage airports within 80 miles of Love Field from attracting commercial airline service.

After taking another look at the language, however... McKinney mayor Bill Whitfield says city leaders are now satisfied that the current language does not adversely affect those airports.

In fact, Whitfield went even further, adding the compromise ensures a more level playing field for cities wanting to attract commercial carriers.
That about-face is a significant step forward for the Wright deal, which is currently being mulled over in Congress.

However, despite that victory there's also that step back we mentioned... as the owners of the vacant Legend terminal at Love Field filed suit Monday against the city of Dallas, over its plans to demolish the little-used, but fairly new terminal in order to reduce gate space at the inner-city airport.

The suit calls the Wright agreement "a wildly pernicious and anti-competitive arrangement to limit carrier operations and consumer choices for air travelers in North Texas" -- some of the strongest words yet in the battle over control of Love Field.

The owners of the private terminal also claim Dallas mayor Laura Miller's plans to demolish the Legend building interfered with their plan to attract new business to the terminal, in the form of Northwest regional subsidiary Pinnacle Airlines.

As of this writing, no comment yet from the city of Dallas, or American... but a spokesman for Southwest says the suit is "another bump in the road trying to undermine" what that carrier believes is in the best interest of North Texas travelers.



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