Airport Officials Explore Dallas Love Field Expansion

Southwest Airlines says they were not part of the inquiry and declined to comment on potential expansion at Love

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Dallas Airport officials commissioned an economic impact study that includes the suggestion of expanding Dallas Love Field Airport.

The study was presented Tuesday to the Dallas City Council Transportation Committee.

It comes as a surprise to Love Field neighbors who recall years of controversy about noise and traffic at the Dallas airport.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea for the neighborhood, and the reason why we fought this some time ago and thought we were through with it,” neighbor Olga Smith said.

The Wright Amendment that limited Love Field to serving only adjacent states as protection for DFW Airport was repealed in 2006.

In return for allowing long-haul service by Southwest Airlines at Love Field, a 5-party agreement between Dallas, Fort Worth, DFW Airport, American Airlines and Southwest capped Love Field at just 20 gates.

“And now we're going to go back again and say now we're going to dump even more traffic on these neighborhoods,” said neighbor Judd Bradbury.

Before DFW Airport was built, Love Field once had more than 70 gates when it was the dominant North Texas Airport.

With the long haul service allowed, Southwest Airlines' business has been soaring at Love Field.

Tuesday, Economist Bernard Weinstein who did the study for Dallas Airport officials dropped the bombshell suggestion.

“Staff asked me to deal with the following issue. Is it time to expand Love Field,” Weinstein said.

His assessment was that it would be a big economic benefit for the City of Dallas.

“If we were to add five to 10 gates at Love Field, that would also have no impact on growth at DFW airport. I think it’s time to at least consider expanding capacity at Dallas Love Field,” Weinstein said.

City Council Members at the meeting knew there would be strong feelings among neighbors.

Gay Donnell Willis represents neighborhoods just northwest of the airport.

“And all I can think of was I would buy all the Kevlar I need to wear when the neighbors start complaining to me about the sound,” she said.

Judd Bradbury, who lives under the Love Field flight path, said more flights would hurt property values.

“We don't include what the negative economic impact is on the people in that economic study,” he said.

Neighbors were not consulted in the information presented to the city council committee.

“I really don't see that being economically beneficial to anybody but the airport,” Smith said.

The City of Dallas also owns Dallas Executive Airport in Southwest Dallas. Some Council Members wanted small plane traffic shifted there before adding any new gates at Love Field.

“As much as we are a city for business, we're also a city for people to live in peace,” Council Member Cara Mendelsohn.

But the committee members thanked airport officials for considering options.

Aviation Director Mark Duebner confirmed that it was a request to Weinstein.

“Come back and tell us and that’s part of the analysis. We’re not advocating that’s the direction we want to take right now,” Duebner said.

Weinstein said it could be good for consumers.

“Adding more gates would offer the opportunity to get more competition and perhaps more carriers,” he said.

A spokesperson said Southwest Airlines was not part of the inquiry and declined to comment on the potential expansion.

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