What a roller coaster of anticipation, disappointment, and elation the past two years have been (not to mention all the sleepless nights). Almost two years ago, our CEO, Gary Kelly, told the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce that we were no longer "passionately neutral" on the Wright Amendment, a federal law that has been the albatross around the neck of our Dallas service since 1979. In those ensuing two years, we mobilized our Employees, our Customers, our supporters, and those who believe in airline competition into a huge grass roots effort. Those efforts have included a petition drive, the establishment of our web site SetLoveFree.com, and a lot of hard (but enjoyable!) work of meeting and corresponding with individuals from all over the country.
Along the way, I have held my breath as almost every stage of this battle has seemed to come down to the last minute. If my hair wasn't already gray, it would be by now! But the late nights have been worth it because we can now, on a one-stop basis, connect our home, Dallas Love Field, with many of your favorite locations on our system. For details, please go here. As you look at our initial new service to outside what was the "Berlin Wall" of the Wright Amendment, please keep in mind that this is just the beginning. Even though Dallas is one of our three original cities, it is also a "new" city thanks to this legislation! Because we wanted to take immediate advantage of our new ability to serve the nation, we had to modify and tweak our existing service to be ready to go on "day one." In the near future, we will be able to start from scratch in writing our Dallas schedules to take better advantage of this new Freedom to Fly. Some of our unsung heroes are the folks in our Schedule Planning Department who have been working nonstop for several months to make this happen, and one of those heroes, Bill Owen (who is a wonderful writer and I know a favorite of yours), outlines those details below.
I also want to take this minute of my time in the "blogosphere" to answer those who feel we could and should have rejected this compromise in favor of pushing for immediate total repeal instead of the phased plan that was adopted by Congress. Given our druthers, while we would have LUVed to have gotten rid of the entire Wright Amendment all at once and sooner than later, each of the five parties (Dallas, Fort Worth, the DFW Airport, American, and Southwest) to the local agreement upon which this legislation is based had to cede some longheld positions. We also had to face the political reality that it is much easier to block legislation than pass it. (For proof of that, the bill that was passed had almost universal Congressional support, but it only passed in the waning minutes of the Congressional session prior to recessing for the November campaigns.)
Bottomline, we are hugely excited that we can now spread our wings from Love to far beyond the Wright Amendment's restrictions. I am eternally grateful to each of you who took time to pen a letter, sign a petition, or tell a friend about this important issue. Without you, this would never have happened-you have my profound thanks and LUV. You also have my personal invitation to fly to our newest and oldest city-please visit southwest.com and book your travel for flights beginning October 19 to and from Big D.