Wright Amendment Compromise Announced

In March, I and eight of my fellow councilmembers traveled to Washington, DC to meet with our Congressional delegation to discuss various legislative matters. Among the issues we discussed was the Wright Amendment.

All of our congressional representatives, on both sides of the Wright debate, conveyed a sense that the Wright Amendment was not under threat of immediate repeal was going to be chipped away, bit by bit, over the course of several years. (We witnessed an example of this with the recent exclusion of Missouri from the Wright Amendment.)

Our Congressional delegation requested that the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth come up with a local solution or else Congress would do it for us. Without our input, in a decade we would arguably be left with 32 gates and no Wright Amendment in place to reduce the impact on the surrounding neighborhoods.

The cities have since been negotiating a local solution to the Wright Amendment. At the heart of the discussion, and a critical point for me as the councilmember who represents the neighborhoods most impacted by Love Field, was creating an impact neutral solution. In other words, if the Wright Amendment did not exist, how do we create a solution that would cause no additional noise, pollution, or traffic than that envisioned by the Love Field Master Plan that was premised on 32 gates and the Wright Amendment in place?

The same consultants who created the Master Plan analyzed the traffic, noise contours, and pollution generated by the Master Plan with 32 gates and the Wright Amendment in place. They determined how many gates would have to eliminated to retain the same impact if the Wright Amendment were gone. This analysis was the basis of the compromise announced last week by the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth.

The compromise resolves the debate about the future of the Wright Amendment and Love Field Airport. Last Thursday, Dallas, Fort Worth, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and DFW signed off on the following proposal:

• Immediately allow “through ticketing,” which lets passengers buy a single ticket to a non-Wright Amendment destination, as long as there is a stop-over in a Wright Amendment state.

• Repeal the Wright Amendment in 8 years.

• Reduce the number of gates at Love Field from 32 to 20.

• Create a voluntary noise curfew precluding scheduled flights between 11:00 pm and 6:00 am. (The federal government, not the city, controls noise and flight time issues.)

• The City of Dallas will invest at least $150 million in modernizing and improving Love Field over the next 8 years. Landing fees and facility costs will be adjusted to undertake these improvements.

• Dallas and Fort Worth will oppose commercial passenger service at any other airport over the next 8 years.

• The City of Dallas will extend the leases of American Airlines and Southwest to 2028.

• If Congress passes legislation inconsistent with this agreement, and if Southwest begins flying non-stop to a non-Wright Amendment destination, then Southwest will voluntarily relinquish control of 8 gates to be made available to other carriers. If American Airlines does so, American will relinquish 1 1/2 gates.

• Congress must enact legislation to this effect by December 31, 2006 or the agreement is null and void.

View the agreement.

The decision is now in the hands of our Congressional leaders.