Posted on: February 18, 2014
One of our least favorite laws is receding in the rearview mirror, so we're taking this opportunity to say farewell and good riddance to some of the last vestiges of the Wright Amendment, which has governed airline service at Love Field in Dallas since 1979 and was slated for an eight-year "reform" in 2006.
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The law was in the news recently because Southwest has served notice that when the long-haul restrictions die away in October, it will launch nonstops from Love to New York, Orlando, Los Angeles and a dozen other points that were previously off-limits.
The law will be remembered by anyone who has read it as containing some of the most convoluted sentences ever written about an airport. It is also a monument to the law of concrete, which we can summarize as: "When you carve something in concrete, you need a jackhammer to erase it."
Because the Wright Amendment's original restrictions were contained in an act of Congress, they required an act of Congress to change. That remains true of the act of Congress that gutted the Wright Amendment in 2006, leaving in place a 20-gate limit and a ban on international service at Love that airlines and local governments had agreed to keep.
As a general rule, we don't like the federal government restricting the operations of airports except in matters of safety, security and the environment. Everything else should be up to the changing dynamics of the marketplace.
If, someday, an evolving Dallas chooses to erase the remaining limits on gates and international service, it may regret that it requires another trip to Washington, hat in hand, and yet another application of the Congressional jackhammer.
In the meantime, feel the Love.