It seemed to take forever but the arcane federal law known as the Wright Amendment finally arrived at death’s door last year. As predicted, this has proved to be a windfall for Dallas Love Field (DAL). How much of a windfall? The numbers are impressive.
Air traffic at DAL is exploding and it is not just because it is the home of Southwest Airlines. While the carrier is increasing flights at a healthy pace, so are other airlines. For example, United Airlines traffic was up 75% in December compared to the year before while Delta Air Lines increase was well more than double the prior year. And then there’s Virgin America which had no traffic before but soared to second place in their first year at DAL, over 80% greater than UA and DL combined.
The overall passenger numbers were even more pronounced. December year-over-year traffic increased 46.5% with greater than a million people passing through DAL. This beat the 43.4% increase in November. The airport predicts they will grow to a total of 12 million passengers, well exceeding their current traffic of 9.4 million. An increase of more than 25%, however, may mean a need for more gates.
Of course not all this gain is due to the Wright Amendment expiring. The past year has been excellent for air travel carriers and contrary to what some believe, there is still some serious competition for certain routes. Also benefiting travelers is the airport competition. As in other cities where there are at least two airports, DAL shares the city with Dallas Ft Worth International Airport (DFW). As long as this competition can remain healthy, it will help to keep a cap on airfares. Then all of us win.