Case | HBS Case Collection | January 2007 (Revised August 2007)

Lobbying for Love? Southwest Airlines and the Wright Amendment

by Felix Oberholzer-Gee, Dennis A. Yao, Libby Cantrill and Patricia Wu

Abstract

The fall of 2004 brought exciting news to Love Field, the Texas headquarters of Southwest Airlines. Delta Airlines, one of Southwest's main competitors, had announced that it would dramatically decrease service from the nearby Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW) airport, cutting the number of daily flights from 250 to a mere 21. Gary Kelly, Southwest's newly minted CEO, thought about what appeared to be a golden opportunity. How could Southwest best capitalize on Delta's withdrawal? As Kelly saw it, Southwest had several options to pursue the new business opportunities. A first was to service the canceled Delta routes from Love Field. A second possibility was to encourage members of Congress to repeal the Wright Amendment, which limited Southwest's flight offerings from Love Field. An alternative to fighting for the repeal of the Wright Amendment was for Southwest to lease the 18 gates that Delta had left at DFW. Kelly carefully considered his options. Was now the time to call his lobbyist?

Keywords: Governing Rules, Regulations, and Reforms; Government Legislation; Business and Government Relations; Opportunities; Competitive Advantage; Air Transportation Industry; Texas;

Citation:

Oberholzer-Gee, Felix, Dennis A. Yao, Libby Cantrill, and Patricia Wu. "Lobbying for Love? Southwest Airlines and the Wright Amendment." Harvard Business School Case 707-470, January 2007. (Revised August 2007.)