July 14, 2005  


Reps. Granger, Barton, Burgess, Marchant come out in strong opposition to Wright Amendment Repeal Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C.--Representatives Kay Granger (TX-12), Joe Barton (TX-06), Michael Burgess (TX-26) and Kenny Marchant (TX-24) said today at a press conference that they strongly oppose proposed legislation introduced by Congressmen Sam Johnson and Jeb Henserling to repeal the Wright Amendment.



Rep. Granger said: “Rep. Johnson this morning said at a news conference that this was an issue of airlines being able to have the freedom to fly wherever they wanted. He’s dead wrong. This isn’t a freedom issue. It’s a local economy issue. There’s an answer to this and it isn’t repealing the Wright Amendment. The answer is Southwest Airlines moving to D/FW where they will have room to expand and no restrictions.

“The precious state of the aviation industry since the 9/11 terrorists’ attacks, the added pressures of record high fuel prices and a $2.7 million capital expansion at D/FW to maintain its competitive edge among airports makes this the absolutely wrong time to change the North Texas aviation rules,” added Granger.

Rep. Barton said: “I’m proud to join this important fight to protect the North Texas economy and ensure low air fare costs by upholding the Wright amendment. The law has served all of us well and has fostered an environment in which two robust and profitable airlines have built a strong base for their operations. Wright has been fair and beneficial to businesses and consumers; repealing it now would be bad policy leaving two weakened airports in its wake.

“I’m not willing to jeopardize thousands of reliable jobs only to provide a risky gamble for an antiquated airport that has no room for growth. I’ll take up this fight every time,” added Barton.

Rep. Burgess said: “Almost three decades ago, the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth made an agreement to have one regional airport. If change is to occur to that agreement, it must come from the local level and not from Washington. If the mayors and county officials on both sides of the Trinity River can unanimously agree to change the agreement, then, and only then, should Washington become involved.

“Our community is fortunate to have two thriving airports that serve millions of satisfied customers and employees hundreds of thousands of North Texans. We should not jeopardize that which is working well already,” added Burgess.

Rep. Marchant said: “As the only Republican from the Dallas-Fort Worth region on the Transportation Committee, which has jurisdiction over the issue, I will do everything possible to prevent repeal of the Wright Amendment. I have briefed Chairman Don Young on the topic many times, and I continue to believe that this was a local decision made in good faith by two cities in 1979. If a change is to be made, it must be done by these two cities, NOT the U.S. Congress.

“Everyone is saying how complex this is, but it’s actually quite simple. This is about protecting the 16,000 jobs and the billions of dollars that D/FW Airport pumps into the region. D/FW Airport is the economic engine of North Texas, and I intend to do everything I can to protect it,” added Marchant.

The four Members pointed out that the circumstances that led to the Wright Amendment have not changed. The federal agency that regulated commercial passenger airports—the Civil Aeronautics Board--ordered an end to the years of bitter fighting between Dallas and Fort Worth by demanding that the two cities designate a single airport for the region. That was in 1964.

A 1968 agreement between the two cities resolved the situation: Both cities would close their existing airports to commercial passenger service. Fort Worth closed Greater Southwest, and tore it down. Dallas pledged to close Love Field to commercial passenger service. A single regional airport would be built.

That plan suffered a setback in the 1970s when a new regional airline, Southwest, won a court battle that allowed it to offer passenger service from Love Field.

To insure D/FW remained the major commercial passenger airport, the two cities and D/FW agreed on a plan to allow limited commercial passenger service at Love Field that would not harm D/FW. Southwest was convinced to join the agreement and, in 1979, the agreement was written into legislation by House Speaker Jim Wright. Hence, it is called the Wright Amendment.

Members also point to the three glaring reasons for why the Wright Amendment must remain in place and why repealing the Wright Amendment would cripple the local economy.

Firstly, D/FW recently made necessary expansions that increased their debt substantially. That reality, coupled with Delta Airline’s decision to pull out virtually all its service from D/FW puts the airport in a position where it must increase rather than decrease service.

Also, the high cost of flying from D/FW Airport is not to have more Southwest flights out of Love Field. Spreading commercial air passengers over several airports drives up air fares because D/FW Airport’s operating costs cannot be reduced by an amount that is correspondent to the drop in passenger volume.

Finally, Southwest has always had the option of coming to D/FW to expand. By coming to D/FW, Southwest would not only expand its service, but also help the economy as opposed to hurting it.

All four North Texas Members have vowed to fight to defeat the Johnson/Henserling bill.