Virgin, Southwest battle for Love Field gates

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by DAVID SCHECHTER

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

WFAA

Posted on April 28, 2014 at 5:08 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 28 at 5:33 PM

DALLAS — Things were a little more sober Monday for Virgin America airlines.

The carrier landed Friday at Dallas Love Field with a lively presentation to announce it would soon launch flights from Dallas to four cities on the East and West Coasts.

But as a new week begins, things don't seem to be as clearly defined.

The Dallas City Council Transportation Committee was briefed on a consultant's proposal that recommends giving the gates Virgin intends to use to Southwest Airlines instead. 

Virgin America CEO David Cush said he thought the Council approval was just a formality after private visits with all but two Council members over the last three weeks.

“[I] saw this largely as a routine matter," he said. "We were ready to get our fares out and get our flights out to the traveling public, and that’s the decision we made."

It’s looking less routine now.

A consultant with LEK Aviation briefed Council members via phone and told them Southwest Airlines is a better fit.  With two more gates, LEK said Southwest could move more passengers than Virgin, and has more staying power in the market.

The committee didn't discuss the matter Monday, so it's not known where Council members stand.

But the way Virgin sees it, there’s nothing to discuss. In fact, they’re already selling tickets for a flight schedule that would take off in October.

“Southwest is very powerful in Dallas," Cush said. "They’re doing everything they can to get those gates. But I think the people of Dallas understand with the independent streak business mentality here that you can’t have a single airline have 18 of 20 gates at a single airport. It’s preposterous to believe that's good public policy."

Cush said the call mostly belongs to American Airlines, which is obligated under the terms of US Airways merger to dump two gates at Love, and the government wants those gates to go to Virgin.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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