Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News
The end of the Wright Amendment lifts long-haul flight restrictions at Dallas Love Field and that means more options for North Texans who want to fly non-stop.
Southwest Airlines says it will start nonstop flights from Dallas to New York, Los Angeles, Washington and 12 other cities this fall, when federal limits on the airline's home airport end.
Southwest announced Monday that it will fly from Love Field to five cities starting Oct. 13 and 10 more on Nov. 2. Tickets for flights will begin selling in May.
The destinations include Atlanta, Baltimore/Washington, Chicago - Midway, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, New York City - La Guardia, Orange County, CA, Orlando, Phoenix, San Diego, Tampa Bay, and Washington D.C. - Reagan. Those routes are currently off-limits to Southwest's Boeing 737 jets because of a 1980 law designed to protect nearby Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Under the Wright Amendment, as the law was called, planes bigger than 56 seats could only fly from Love Field to other cities in Texas and a few nearby states.
Southwest expects to add nearly 20 flights a day, to 146 daily departures in November, from Love Field, the airline's eighth-busiest airport.
"It will mean the opportunity to grow and add airplanes and add jobs," CEO Gary Kelly said. He said the additional flying wouldn't affect earnings through 2015.
Kelly joined U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings at the airline's Love Field terminal Monday morning for the announcement.
Travel expert Rick Seaney of farecompare.com speculates hot spots like Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando, Denver, Atlanta and Chicago could be at the top of Southwest's list.
The competition between airlines and airports could also mean great ticket deals for passengers.
“Usually what happens, if you look at new routes that come on, there's this period of 4-8 months where there's really good pricing, typically discounts of 20-50 percent,” Seaney said.
With the new long-haul routes, Southwest will compete against similar service from American Airlines Group Inc. at nearby DFW Airport.
Southwest's toughest competition, however, might come from Delta Air Lines Inc., which is already selling tickets for flights in late 2014 from Love Field to New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Detroit.
There's just one hitch: Delta doesn't know if it will have any gates at Love Field.
American has two gates but agreed to give them up to settle a government lawsuit against its merger with US Airways. Delta, which is leasing the gates, wants to buy them from American, but so does Southwest, and other airlines could enter the bidding. The U.S. Justice Department has said that the gates shouldn't go to so-called legacy carriers such as Delta and United, but Delta points out that Southwest already controls 16 of the 20 gates at Love Field.
On Oct. 13, Southwest will start flying from Dallas to Chicago; Baltimore; Denver; Las Vegas; and Orlando, Fla. On Nov. 2, it will add New York's LaGuardia Airport; Washington's Reagan National Airport; Los Angeles, San Diego and Santa Ana, Calif.; Atlanta; Nashville; Fort Lauderdale and Tampa, Fla.; and Phoenix.
The fight over Love Field is a big part of the history of Southwest Airlines, which began as a Texas-only carrier. Herb Kelleher, the airline's co-founder and a lawyer who personally fought some of the legal battles, attended Monday's announcement at the airport.
"It just proves that being patient pays off," he said. "Only had to wait for 40 years."
NBC 5's Kendra Lyn and David Koenig, with the Associated Press, contributed to this article.