Tensions are rising over the use of one gate at Dallas Love Field. Southwest claims Delta is illegally “squatting” while Delta claims it must protect Dallas from Southwest.
Dallas Love (DAL) has 20 gates. Technically, 18 belong to Southwest and two belong to Alaska. But Delta’s still operating five flights per day to Atlanta…and wants to fly more. Meanwhile, Southwest wants Delta out.
The squabble began in 2015. In the Wright Amendment era (a perimeter rule on DAL flights fully repealed in 2014), Southwest was unable to use all of its gates since it could only fly to states bordering Texas. Even when the amendment was lifted, Southwest did not immediately fully utilize its gates. Southwest had leased one gate to United, which subleased it to Delta. But when the lease expired, Delta refused to vacate.
The Dallas City Council tried to offer a three-year compromise, but both sides rejected it. Now, as a court battle looms, Southwest has taken to “squatter” language to describe Delta’s position at the airport.
Speaking recently in Dallas, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly stated:
It’s like you having rented a house, and there’s a squatter in the house and you’ve got to get them out. It’s really no more complicated than that.
That’s Southwest’s position, but Delta sees it differently:
Only long term, meaningful competition provides the best options and fares for the citizens of Dallas. And to that end, we are pursuing our right to continue flying out of Love Field.
The City Council also suggested that Delta share the two gates that Alaska owns and are currently under-utilized. Alaska responded with an announcement it is increasing flights to Dallas Love.
The whole situation is rather comical. It is like two children who can’t share. My prediction is that Delta will continue its service to Atlanta. But let’s correct the term. Delta is no longer squatting, it is trespassing (since it was “caught”). But “trespassing Delta” (sounds like a presidential tweet) will have its day in court.