Delta, Southwest Face Off Over Gates At Dallas Love Field Airport

Delta Airlines is not backing away from the gates it leases from Southwest Airlines Co. at Dallas Love Field Airport, even after it was made clear that Delta’s lease, which ends on July 6, will not be renewed.

Delta is continuing to book flights using the gates through May, 2016, but Southwest has begun scheduling flights assuming ownership over the gates, as well. The result is that both Delta and Southwest have flights scheduled to leave the same gates at the same time, which creates an obvious dilemma for travelers.

On Friday, Delta threatened to sue over its right to remain at the gates beyond July 6. Southwest responded by asking a federal court to kick Delta out after the lease expires.

“Southwest is seeking injunctive relief prohibiting Delta from trespassing on Southwest’s gates and a declaration from this Court that Southwest Airlines is the sole lawful operator of the gates after July 6, 2015.”

In the court document, Southwest states if Delta is still flying planes out of the gates at Dallas Love Field Airport on July 7, then Delta’s planes will be “trespassing” on the gates.

“Remarkably, Delta has told Southwest and the City that it will not vacate Southwest’s Love Field gates when its license expires, meaning that Delta has admitted that it will trespass on Southwest’s property beginning on July 7, 2015.”

Southwest currently owns 18 out of the 20 gates at Dallas Love Field Airport, with Virgin America having ownership of the other two.

David Cush, president and chief executive of Virgin America, has clearly chosen a side after a statement he made Thursday, which does not look good for Delta.

“My view of this is pretty clear: Southwest owns those gates. They should be able to do whatever they want to with them without having Delta enlisting the government to do their bidding.”

Southwest taking back the gates that Delta leases is part of a plan to schedule 180 flights per day. Over 25,000 people have already been scheduled on flights that are planned to be operated from the gates Delta claims they will also continue to use, according to Southwest.

Delta is also saying that thousands of their passengers will be disrupted if an accommodation is not found.

Delta claimed Friday in a letter that the City of Dallas is not fulfilling its federal obligation. Delta spokesperson Trebor Banstetter said that the airline has been waiting a year for accommodations, and patience is running out.

“The City of Dallas has twice been told by the DOT that it has a responsibility to accommodate other airlines at Love Field, where one carrier operates 97 percent of all flights.”

The City of Dallas has also filed its share of lawsuits, including ones against the US Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, and six other airlines.

Delta has already cut several international flights this year.

[Photo By David McNew / Getty Images]