Delta Airlines sought to use some of the 20 gates at Love Field. Although Delta was not party to the lease agreement the distributed the gates among airlines, the agreement provided for accommodations of non-parties. The City of Dallas selected United Airlines to share its gates because it was under the cap of 10 flights per day per gate, and Delta began operating flights. However, Southwest acquired United's two gates – giving Southwest 18 of the 20 – and later announced plans to use the full gates' capacity. The city rescinded the accommodation, intending to renegotiate an accommodation deal in light of the change. The city also sought a declaratory judgment as to its legal obligations; as part of the lawsuit, Delta sought injunctive relief preserving its status quo and Southwest sought injunctive relief prohibiting Delta from operating flights out of Love Field. The city then filed for a preliminary injunction requested the court to grant either of the airlines' request or any other relief the court found proper. The district court granted the city's motion by preserving the status quo in favor of Delta. Southwest appealed, challenging the court's finding that the city had a substantial likelihood of success on the merits. The appeals court found that Delta had properly requested all parties to seek accommodation, as required of non-parties under the contract; that the contract granted Southwest preferential but not exclusive use of the gates; and that the contract did not allow Southwest to obtain exclusive use by ramping up its own usage after an accommodation request was made. Thus, the court found that Southwest could have accommodated another carrier without "unduly interfering" with its own operations, as required under the lease agreement, and that the City could establish that Southwest breached the lease agreement by failing to do so. The court affirmed the trial court's judgment. City of Dallas v. Delta Airlines, Fifth Circuit, Case No. 16-10051, 2/2/17.
W. EUGENE DAVIS, CIRCUIT JUDGE