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Love Field Lives On

After a five-year, $500 million remodeling project, Dallas Love Field began a new era as home of Southwest Airlines as restrictions on long-distance flights under the Wright Amendment ended on Oct. 13.

With completion of the remodeling project, Love Field operates one terminal dominated by Southwest Airlines. Southwest financed the remodeling through tax-exempt bonds issued by the conduit Love Field Modernization Corp.

Southwest Airlines commissioned a variety of artwork to decorate the remodeled terminal and selected a variety of retailers and restaurants for airport.

Southwest unveiled its new paint design on its Boeing 737s at its Dallas Love Field headquarters Sept. 8. The airline has 8,000 employees in the Dallas area and is reported to have a $4 billion annual impact on the city’s economy.

Southwest chief executive Gary Kelly christens the 737 dubbed “Heart One” at Dallas Love Field Sept. 8. Kelly said that Southwest considered a move to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport when restricted traffic at Love Field began to decline in 2002 but decided instead to fight the Wright Amendment instead.

Southwest launched an aggressive media and political campaign in 2004 to lift the Wright Amendment that restricted commercial flights of planes with more than 56 seats to Texas and nearby states. Two years later, the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth and the carriers serving the region’s two major airports agreed to a compromise that would gradually lift the restrictions.

Fort Worth Congressman Jim Wright helped create the so-called Wright Amendment in 1979 to protect the then five-year-old Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport from competition from Love Field in Dallas. The opening of DFW followed years of rancor between Dallas and Fort Worth over flight service. President Jimmy Carter signed the Wright Amendment into law in 1980.

Love Field is landlocked in a mostly residential section of North Dallas, prompting occasional noise complaints. Without the ability to grow, Love Field is now seen as a minor threat to Dallas-Fort Worth International, the nation’s second-largest airport in physical size.

Located just four miles from downtown Dallas, Love Field is now considered an urban airport serving Dallas and its adjacent suburbs. Most of the 6.5 million residents of the Dallas-Fort Worth area live in areas more easily served by Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

With the lifting of the Wright Amendment, Southwest began counting down the days to Oct. 13, 2014 with a billboard campaign on Mockingbird Lane, the major thoroughfare outside Love Field.

As Love Field celebrated the launch of 737 jet service to cities coast-to-coast, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport welcomed the first flights of the A380 super jumbo jet. The Qantas flight from DFW to Sydney, Australia, is the longest commercial route served by the largest commercial aircraft.

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