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Sat, Nov 12, 2005

Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association (SWAPA) Supports Wright Fight

Participates In This Week's Hearing Before The Senate Commerce Committee

While it may come as no surprise, the Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association (SWAPA) tells ANN that they 'wholeheartedly support the efforts of Southwest Airlines to repeal the Wright Amendment.'

"Today, we're looking to Congress to free the leg irons that the Wright Amendment put on Love Field and the traveling public almost three decades ago," said Captain Joseph (Ike) Eichelkraut in written testimony in to the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

"It is a perfect irony that the bill [former] House Speaker Jim Wright (D-TX - Ft. Worth) used as a vehicle for his amendment was the landmark airline deregulation bill. Today, we are simply asking Congress to complete a critical piece of deregulation that unfairly impacts Southwest Airlines with one of the most anti-competitive pieces of legislation ever to have been passed by either chamber."

This Congressional restriction placed upon providers of scheduled airline service years ago at Dallas' Love Field has long since outlived any usefulness or necessity, if indeed it served any purpose other than to restrict the growth of an emerging competitor, Southwest Airlines.

"Southwest Airlines has far exceeded expectations for growth despite the restrictions as a result of a cost-effective approach to operations and consistent professionalism from our 4,800 pilots nationwide," said Eichelkraut. "At a time when competition on the open market is promoted as a way to drive down costs for consumers, the Wright Amendment restrictions put Southwest Airlines into the market with one hand tied behind our back."

"SWAPA welcomes the upcoming hearing in the Senate," Eichelkraut said.

"We are confident that Southwest Airlines Founder Herb Kelleher can explain in clear, cogent language why the Wright Amendment is wrong. We are confident, as well, that once the Senate and the American people understand the Wright Amendment, its history and its adverse effect on air travel and air fares in North Texas, they will support its repeal."

"We find certain reactionary comments about the recent Southwest Airlines petition drive to be regrettable," Eichelkraut said.

"Rhetoric such as 'cheap publicity stunt' and 'prime example of selfish opportunism' does not raise the level of discourse. The traveling public is better served when presented with fact, not emotion."

Eichelkraut said members of SWAPA, the union for Southwest Airlines' pilots, are looking forward to a chance to make constructive, factual discussion available for Senators on the Committee.

"At the end of the day SWAPA is simply asking Congress to guarantee consumers a reasonable choice by re-establishing fair competition through repeal of the Wright Amendment."



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