Give Southwest Some Love!


Virginia Postrel has a New York Times column on some pointless old piece of restrictionist legislation that hobbles Southwest Airlines in its own home port.

Under that 1979 law, full-size planes may fly from Love Field only to adjacent states, plus Alabama, Mississippi and Kansas, which were added in 1997. (Planes with fewer than 56 seats are exempt.) Anyone wanting to travel somewhere else has to drive another 20 miles to the Dallas-Fort Worth airport and pay the higher prices that American Airlines charges at what industry analysts call its "fortress hub." Both Dallas-Fort Worth and American Airlines support the Wright Amendment.

Unfortunately, liberating prices was only one part of airline deregulation. Crucial other bits, like privatizing airports, allowing foreign carriers to operate in the U.S., and removing nonsense laws like this, are still undone, and in many cases are further away than ever because of professed National Security fears. Meanwhile the UK and continental Europe, as I write about in the current issue (subscribe now!), continue to surge ahead.

NEXT: And When Ted Turner Did It, They Laughed at Him

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  1. Interesting article, but the author is gravely mistaken if she thinks Southwest was ever “passionately neutral” on the subject.

    The stock symbol for Southwest Airlines? Well, it ain’t SWA or SWE or SOU or any other such thing.

    Nope: they wear the Wright Ammendment as a badge of honor, trading on the NYSE as LUV.

    (But JetBlue’s kicking their asses in some markets, so I wouldn’t recommend the stock… particularly without Herb in charge.)

  2. Jet Blue is great, Mrs. TWC won’t fly anything else unless there isn’t a choice.

    BTW, doesn’t Reason have a resident expert on airline issues named Poole?

  3. Before DFW could be approved for construction by both Dallas and Fort Worth city governments, both cities had to agree to close down their city airports so as not to compete with their joint effort, DFW. Regional air was allowed out of Dallas’ Love Field as long as it stayed regional. That’s the purpose of that particular agreement, which made sense at the time.

  4. Sigh. Yet another reminder that one of the major opponents of the free market is big business. (although usually in collusion with the legislative powers)

  5. TOM, thanks for the insight into the stated rationale for the Wright Amendment.

    I strongly doubt, however, that it really made sense (business, free market, or otherwise) at *any* time, now or back then.

    While I hope SWA prevails here, I still wouldn’t fly with them. First, because I live too far away from the nearest SWA location (which is in Islip, NY, many miles distant from NJ). And second, because I love JetBlue too damned much. Put it this way – I live about 15 minutes from EWR, and still drive all the way through SI, Bklyn, and Queens to JFK, just so I can use JetBlue.

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