MIAMI — Is Virgin America the newest airline to serve Dallas Love Field? The jury remains out, though after a press conference put on by Virgin CEO David Cush here in the Big D, things would appear to be looking up.
Cush announced that the carrier would begin to selling tickets from its presumed Dallas Love Field focus city on Friday to Los Angeles, New York LaGuardia, San Francisco, and Washington DC. The flights begin in October 2014.
The carrier justified the decisions on the news that it has reached an agreement with American Airlines on the two open gates at Dallas Love, adding that the agreement has received a blessing from the Department of Justice (DOJ). A spokesperson for the airline said the carrier “has a signed transfer agreement with American (AA) for the two gates at Dallas Love, and the DOJ has approved the agreement.”
American declined a request to comment.
But appearances are the key word: Officially the airline has not received the gates, at least not yet. The Dallas City Council has the final say on the matter, and thus far has yet to make a decision. Preempting Virgin’s shindig today, the city went on record Thursday night confirming that no decision had yet been made. Virgin admitted as much during an interview, with its spokesperson stating that the AA/DOJ approved request was “on file with the city of Dallas.” The spokesperson added that they are “confident [the city] will approve the agreement.”
The whole fight came about earlier this year, when the DOJ required American Airlines, who currently owns both of the gates, to divest them as a condition of its merger with US Airways. As a condition of the Wright Amendment’s expiration in October, Love Field is capped at just 20 gates, making real estate at the airport’s new terminal highly lucrative.
Delta, who along with Southwest joined Virgin in the hunt for the space, was quick to point out that Virgin had not officially won anything yet in a statement, and that the matter was still up to the city. The three have fought vociferously, with Delta going so far as to offer ticket sales several months back for flights that as of yet did not exist. Should Delta receive the gates, and its worth mentioning that the DOJ has already told them they will not receive them, the carrier would add or boost service to five cities from Love Field.
Southwest was not immediately able to comment on today’s developments. The carrier has petitioned hard for the space, particularly since it is functionally stuck at Love Field and limited to its current sixteen gates. Should it win them, it would expand operations by twenty additional daily flights and open up roughly one dozen new nonstop locations.
As announced in early March, Virgin America plans to utilize this new acquisition to establish Love Field as its first focus city away from the west coast. It is now offering flights to four nonstop destinations beginning in October of this year. Service to Chicago O’Hare is expected to be added in 2015, with total service eventually growing to 18 daily flights.
Combined with other recently acquired gates at LaGuardia and Reagan National, Virgin America’s new position in Dallas will allow the airline to develop and leverage new routes.
Should the airline secure the routes, it would move its current operations at Dallas / Ft Worth International to Love Field en masse in October of this year.