Study: Wright Debate a Local Problem

The fight over long-haul flights at Love Field may be gaining steam again as talk about repealing the Wright Amendment increases and services to College Station could be riding on the wings of the looming battle.

The original intent of the Wright Amendment was to help growth at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, home to American Airlines.
Passed in 1979, it also settled a dispute over plans to close Love Field in Dallas.

But the amendment meant Southwest had to limit its flights to several states outside Texas.
Last year, Southwest began a campaign to repeal the law, seeking to expand operations and profits.

But a recent study commissioned by American Airlines said if the Wright Amendment is repealed, smaller communities would bear the brunt of the changes.
The consulting firm said American would be forced to move flights from D/FW to Love Field in order to compete with Southwest, cutting services to eleven Texas cities including at Easterwood Airport.

Brazos County Commissioner Kenny Mallard, chairman of the Research Valley Partnership's Easterwood Airport Committee said a repeal could be devastating to the Brazos Valley.
"I think it would be a huge problem for us. One thing we need to grow our community is have that connectivity and our airport is a very important part of that," Mallard said.

Officials at Easterwood Airport say they will continue offering services so customers and airlines continue using Easterwood.
Texas A&M, who owns the airport, says it is premature to comment on something that may or may not happen.

A Senate aviation subcommittee is scheduling a hearing next month which could be the first step in drafting legislation allowing long-haul flights at Love Field.

Although Representative Chet Edwards hasn't taken a position on the Wright Amendment yet, he said, "I think American Airlines would be more effective in lobbying if they talked directly to members of Congress rather than issuing veiled threats of service cutbacks in our districts. I am doing my homework on what is a complex issue and will ultimately do what I think is best for my district and our state."