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The Dallas Duke-Out Between Delta and Southwest Heats Up

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Update: Delta will be able to operate for a few more weeks pending a long-term resolution in Dallas courts.

Break out the hose and call the fire department, because the battle between Southwest and Delta is hotter than a Dallas Love Field (DAL) tarmac in July.

Delta currently operates five daily flights from DAL to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) and was supposed to continue these only until July 6, 2015, when its temporary license is set to expire and Southwest is positioned to take over the gate. However, Delta is paying no attention to that date and has continued selling tickets well into the future.

Delta says Southwest has a "virtual monopoly" at Dallas Love Field
Delta says Southwest has a “virtual monopoly” at Dallas Love Field.

And now the gloves are off — or the ten-gallon-hats are on, depending on how they do things down there. Southwest currently controls 18 of the 20 gates at Love Field and last Friday, the company and the City of Dallas (Love Field is city-owned) filed federal court documents “seeking injunctive relief” to kick Delta out of the gate on July 7, claiming that “Delta has admitted that it will trespass on Southwest’s property beginning on July 7, 2015. And Delta’s current actions further indicate Delta’s intent to trespass.”

Here’s where things get extra messy. Since July 7 is only two weeks away and it was expecting the gate, Southwest has already sold “in excess of 25,000 tickets to passengers who will fly on five new flights that will be run out of the gates that Delta is currently using.”

Will Delta manage to keep its spot at DAL? Looks like only some lawsuits will tell.

But Delta isn’t going away without a fight. On Tuesday, Delta filed a motion with the US District Court in Dallas for a restraining order to stop Southwest from taking over its last gate at Love Field, citing that Southwest has a “virtual monopoly” and “controls 18 of the airport’s 20 gates, operates roughly 175 flights per day, and carries 93.13 percent of the airport’s passenger traffic.”

Anyone else picturing two beeping Priuses trying to nudge the other out of the same Whole Foods parking spot?

To complicate things even further, the City of Dallas filed a federal lawsuit on June 17, citing an “impossible situation” and adding that the dispute “may cause chaos at Love Field.” But with the July 7 deadline fast approaching, it’s doubtful these cases will even be looked at in time.

Sounds like it’s a good moment to be a lawyer in Dallas. However this ends up going down, I see lots of refunds in the very near future.

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