The City of Dallas, which both owns and operates Dallas Love Field Airport, has set out a proposal which, if implemented, would create a more formal process for the allocation of limited gate capacity at the downtown metropolitan gateway.

According to The Dallas Morning News, the process would evaluate an airline's proposal to serve Love Field on the basis of available space, proposed destination, and the number of passengers that would be served.

If space is available and the requesting airline is approved, that carrier would then be able to operate to/from Love Field for three years. Once that period expires, the incumbent operator would then have to reapply for use of the gate albeit in competition with any other contenders. If none of the applicants' proposals is deemed worthy, the gates would then revert back to their current leaseholders - either Southwest Airlines (which controls 16 out of Love Field's 20 gates and leases a further two) or Alaska Airlines (which controls two).

The proposal comes as Southwest and Delta Air Lines (DL, Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson) prepare to go to court in February 2019 over Delta's continued access to Love Field. The Atlanta-based carrier's claim to the use of two gates at Love Field dates back to January 2015 when it reached an agreement with United Airlines (UA, Chicago O'Hare) allowing the former to maintain its Love Field operations through to July of that year. Delta was to have lost its access to the central Dallas airport in October 2014 when American Airlines (AA, Dallas/Fort Worth) transferred its two gates at the airport, one of which was leased to Delta, to Virgin America (now owned by Alaska Airlines) as part of its US Airways merger settlement with the US Department of Justice.

However, in February 2015, United announced it would be withdrawing from Dallas Love Field in favour of Dallas/Fort Worth with its two Love Field gates to be subleased to Southwest. While the Texan LCC said it would continue to honour United's agreement with Delta, it did not guarantee Delta's future at Love Field beyond July 2015. Following a litany of lawsuits, in which Delta claimed Southwest eventually agreed to allow Delta to continue using one of the gates pending the outcome of the upcoming court case.

The move comes after a judge, in issuing a preliminary injunction order in 2016 barring Delta's expulsion from Love Field, said Dallas officials had “wholly failed to craft any policy, let alone a clear one, setting forth how the accommodation procedure and process would work in reality.”

As such, if the aforementioned proposal is accepted, and assuming that Delta's plans are accepted thereafter, it would allow the carrier to remain at Love Field for a further three years.