Southwest, American in political dog fight

July 20, 2005 at 3:35 PM

WASHINGTON, July 20 (UPI) -- Political supporters of American Airlines are pushing a bill in Congress to force Southwest Airlines to leave Dallas' Love Field and move to D/FW Airport.

Southwest, which pioneered a point-to-point routing strategy and became the most profitable U.S. airline, uses Love Field as its base. Dallas-Fort Worth is American Airlines' super-hub.

Since 1979, the Wright Amendment has restricted Southwest's flights from Love Field to eight states.

Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., introduced a bill Tuesday to let Southwest fly wherever its customers want to go from Love Field. A similar House bill has 28 co-sponsors.

Observers say such a measure would devastate American, a legacy carrier whose hub-and-spoke strategy has cost it millions. Supporters of American Airlines, including Sens. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, proposed a bill to close Love Field to all commercial air traffic, forcing Southwest to use D/FW Airport.

Southwest slammed the Inhofe-Harkin bill.

"That is like Wal-Mart saying to the hardware store, 'I have a nice piece of land next to my SuperCenter. Come over and compete and get sliced to death,' " Southwest chairman Herb Kelleher said.

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