WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) yesterday introduced legislation aiming to increase fair competition between air carriers at Dallas Fort-Worth (DFW) airport while ensuring continued service to Oklahoma cities. Inhofe made the following statement regarding his True Competition Act (S. 1425):
“We are not introducing this bill to oppose the status quo. There has been legislation introduced by Sen. Ensign (R-Nev.) that would open Love Field to nationwide long-haul flights pressuring American Airlines, a major Oklahoma employer and air-service provider, to fragment their base of operation at DFW by splitting flights between Love Field and DFW. This would raise costs and jeopardize existing Oklahoma City, Lawton and Tulsa air-service to Dallas.
“As an individual who has passed through Love Field on many occasions, I can say that Southwest operates a very efficient and successful airline and one that I respect very much. That being said, American Airlines is Tulsa’s largest employer and I have a responsibility to protect not only Oklahoma jobs but also continuing air service to our communities.
“Independent analysis has shown that in addition to the 220 flights lost by Delta Airlines’ recent departure from DFW, repealing Wright, ‘would cost DFW Airport some 204 flights a day, 21 million passengers annually, and slash Airport passenger traffic back to levels seen 20 years ago... DFW would not recover for nearly two decades.’
“Even the former Southwest CEO Herb Kelleher has testified that, ‘there is no city in the United States that has two full-fledged hubs competing against one another successfully.’
“It is a very real scenario given that with American Airlines we now have 12 Tulsa to Dallas, nine Oklahoma City to Dallas and two Lawton to Dallas flights, if Love Field were to open to long-haul nationwide flights we could wind up with as few as four total flights between all three Oklahoma communities and Dallas. This would be devastating to Oklahoma’s economy.
“This legislation would return to the original intent of all the parties involved in the decision to build DFW International by closing Love Field to commercial air traffic. If enacted, competition at DFW will increase significantly benefiting consumers and the surrounding communities that use DFW as their access to the world.
“American Airlines is one of Oklahoma’s largest employers with 8,000 employees in Tulsa alone. I can assure you that as the senior Senator from Oklahoma I am not going to sit idly by as American Airlines is legislated out of business.”