DALLAS — A long-standing feud between Southwest Airlines Co. and Delta Air Lines Inc. over gate space at Dallas Love Field Airport could be coming to an end.
The Dallas City Council will consider approving a settlement aimed at resolving an ongoing lawsuit between the city and the airlines at its meeting on Wednesday. The city, which owns Love Field, filed suit in 2015 in the U.S. District Court for the North District of Texas seeking a resolution to the conflict between the major air carriers.
Details of the settlement have not been made public and it remains subject to the council's approval. However, the settlement includes a facilities lease agreement with Delta for certain space in support of its scheduled airline passenger service and a use agreement with Southwest for terminal storage and support space, according to a supplement to the City Council agenda.
Competition for Love Field's limited number of gates lies at the heart of the litigation. Dallas-based Southwest is the dominant airline at Love Field with leases for 18 of the airport's 20 gates, including two that it subleases from United Airlines. Atlanta-based Delta operates five daily flights out of one of the gates subleased by Southwest. When Southwest (NYSE: LUV) accused Delta (NYSE: DAL) of "squatting" and tried to kick out its competitor, Dallas filed suit to avoid retaliation from either side.
The case has had many twists and turns and the trial has been delayed multiple times as the sides have continued to negotiate. The court entered a preliminary injunction ordering Southwest to accommodate Delta flights while the litigation proceeds.
Alaska Airlines (NYSE: ALK), which leases the remaining two gates at Love Field, also got dragged into the lawsuit. Dallas proposed a solution in 2018 centered around having Delta utilize Alaska's gates, but all of the carriers opposed it.
The proposed settlement ensures all gates at Love Field will be fully utilized until the expiration of the current use and lease agreements on Sept. 30, 2028, according to a draft of the resolution being considered by the City Council.
Attorneys representing the city did not respond to requests for comment, nor did attorneys for the airlines.
A spokesman for Southwest said in a statement the company "looks forward to the Dallas City Council’s consideration" of the agenda item.
A spokesman for Delta declined to comment. Spokespeople for Alaska and Love Field did not respond to requests for comment.
The city will forgo $1.2 million in revenue, or $200,000 per year, over the six-year period until lease and use agreements expire, according to the supplement to the agenda. The city's estimated net annual revenue from the lease with Delta will total $470,761.
More details on the settlement and the future of Love Field's gates will come to light in the coming weeks. The City Council's Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will receive a briefing on gate leases from airport officials in August.