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End of Wright Amendment means changes at El Paso International Airport

When the Wright Amendment restrictions for flights out of Dallas’ Love Field are lifted next week, Southwest Airlines is going to be changing.

In 1979, Congress passed the Wright Amendment. That meant Southwest Airlines couldn’t fly outside of Texas from Love Field in Dallas, unless flights were going to neighboring states. That brought many travelers to El Paso, as they connected flights to go across the country. In 2006, the law was repealed but wouldn’t be lifted for another eight years. On Oct. 13, Southwest Airlines will be able to offer many more non-stop flights out of Love Field.

“It can be good for us. It will probably create some additional seats going into Dallas/Fort Worth (Airport) so that will help us have a few more options for our travelers,” Susan Melendez with The Borderplex Alliance said.

While lifting the Wright Amendment may be good news for travelers out of Dallas, it could be bad news for El Paso. When the Wright Amendment was in place, those flying had to pit stop in Texas cities before going on to states other than Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas and New Mexico.

That leaves El Paso International Airport scrambling to get more airlines but more importantly, more non-stop destinations.

“What we need to put together is a very strong incentive package that’s attractive to an airline,” Melendez said. Waiving landing fees, helping with marketing and providing revenue guarantees are just some incentive examples. The Borderplex Alliance is trying to help that initiative, and recently conducted a business travel survey that showed the top five traveled cities form El Paso are: Washington D.C., Chicago, New York City, San Diego and Detroit.

The repeal means there will be fewer non-stop Southwest Airlines flights leaving El Paso. There will now only be four flights to Dallas Love Field compared to six now. Two to Las Vegas versus the three a day now. Two to San Antonio, down from the current number of three, and four to Phoenix daily versus five now. That equals five fewer Southwest flights a day leaving El Paso, which will likely mean less travelers at the airport.

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