Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Not the Wright Solution
NOTE: Because there was no posting yesterday, you get two-for-the-price-of-one today!
Remember the song by The Clash a few years ago—“Should I Stay or Should I Go?” If the response to a Dallas Morning News poll are any indication, Southwest Airlines is likely to move their tents to a new encampment…65% say it just makes sense.
Dallas’ 5th largest taxpayer is making noises about relocating The Home Office someplace else if legislation choking Southwest’s operations at Love Field is not rescinded… a possible tactic to up the ante on the airline's drive to repeal the Wright Ammendment.
You can’t ignore a veiled threat in the comments of Southwest’s President, Colleen Barrett, who said it’s a little odd to have the airline’s center of operations at it’s smallest post in the Southwest system.
Southwest Chief Executive Gary Kelly said earlier this Summer that if Southwest were choosing a headquarters location from scratch, Dallas wouldn’t even make the first cut…
And you cannot ignore Chairman Herb Kelleher’s comments in The New York Times that the airline might oughtta start “casting about for a place that's more efficient to operate."
“You are clear for departure.”
This is the equivalent of the handwriting on the wall of Belshazzar’s palace in ancient Babylon, “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin.” Only the common-day translation might be more like “eenie, mene, miney, mo—where might Southwest’s headquarters go--away from Dallas?
This continues to be an interesting debate…and everyone is weighing in.
Southwest has already amassed a list of signatures from 250,000 pro-repeal Texans...and then there are those trying to sit on the fence (or the tarmac?)
Dallas Mayor Laura Miller has gone so far as to propose a middle-ground solution that would phase out some of the restrictions of the Wright amendment, giving American Airlines and D/FW airport time to adjust to the idea… Guess when the government has subsidized your operations by restricting the competition for years, it’s a bit of a shock when the playing field is leveled.
Mayor Miller’s heart may be in the right place, but her solution is from the Wright playbook, still prohibiting international routes, and imposing a curfew to eliminate the potential for overnight flights.
A curfew? What—are the pilots all teenagers??
…maybe we need to send chaperones along for the flights, too??
As usual, Texas’ senators are remaining safely circumspect on this issue: Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison wants the Senate to take “a thoughtful look at the Wright amendment," which was surely a gust of wind beneath the wings of both antagonists and protagonists on the issue. Senator John Cornyn’s office noted that they’re “always…happy to hear from constituents."
Bet they are.
The Dallas Morning News notes Southwest generated $15 million in tax revenues last year. It provides 5,000 jobs, and its activities at Love Field create $2 billion to $3 billion in annual economic activity.
There are some very practical logistical issues to be considered…
Imagine trying to hold a meeting of your key people at The Home Office--for which your staff has to make two flight connections to attend, and carve out three days for a one day meeting, because of the restrictions imposed by the government?
Would it not be more efficient to move HQ to a place more easily reached by air?
Here’s another one: You want to do business in Dallas—you fly into Love Field, and you’re 20-minutes or less from your appointment by car. Why fly into D/FW for that meeting in Dallas, which is at least 30-minutes away, and then scurry to where you're wanting to go?
I’ve driven it…it’s ridiculous.
Wright is just wrong.