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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – History was made on Monday morning, when the first non-restricted Southwest Airlines flight took off from Dallas Love Field in conjunction with the expiration of the Wright Amendment.
For the first time in 35 years, the are no federal restrictions on airlines operating at Dallas Love Field. Passengers are able to fly nonstop across the country. Southwest Airlines employees have been counting down to this day for nearly a year.
The inaugural flight departed at 6:40 a.m. heading for Denver.
The Wright Amendment — named for long-time Fort Worth Congressman Jim Wright — was designed to protect the then-new DFW International Airport, which Wright did not believe could stand the competition.
The demise of the Wright Amendment has been in the works for years, and passengers are anxious to utilize the new travel option. “Bookings that we’ve been tracking since May, when we began taking reservations for these new flights, are more than we would have expected,” stated Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly.
Southwest Airlines co-founder Herb Kelleher joined Kelly to greet the departing passengers on Monday morning, scanning tickets to the first flight to Denver. “This has got to be an unbelievable dream come true after a long time, a lot of years, and attention,” Kelleher stated. “I’m overcome with joy.”
Along with Denver, new destinations include nonstop flights to Chicago, Orlando, Las Vegas, Baltimore and Los Angeles. Eight more cities will be added in November. For some perspective on how the added destinations impact travel at Dallas Love Field, Southwest Airlines had 118 departures on Sunday. That number jumped to 140 departures scheduled for Monday.
Travel experts believe that the added flights from Dallas will boost competition and slash fares by as much as 20 percent over the next six months.
Southwest Airlines is not the only company celebrating on Monday. Virgin America is moving from DFW International Airport, and expanding its nonstop flights to Dallas Love Field on Monday as well.
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