DALLAS – After more than a week of formal consideration, Dallas City Manager A.C. Gonzalez said the city consented to Virgin America’s sub-lease of two gates at Love Field.
Attorneys for the airline and the city worked on the fine print of the legal deal through Monday. News 8 first reported Virgin would be awarded the gates last week.
Gonzalez said the delay was not caused by competition for the gates between airlines, but rather the city working with Virgin on a compliance agreement that committed the airline to the city's noise-abatement program, clarified how any unused gate space might be made accessible to other airlines, and protects the city from possible legal expense through an indemnification clause.
"Contrary to reports, this was not a competition. While initially, The City was told to expect a collaborative process, the Justice Department eventually required American Airlines to sub-lease the Love Field gates to a chosen airline. The City was presented with the sub-lease," Gonzalez said in a statement. "Rather than simply signing the sub-lease presented to us, we took some additional time to make sure our actions would be responsible and capture the vision of the Justice Department’s selected carrier."
Virgin America is sub-leasing the two gates from American Airlines through 2028. American agreed to give up its Love Field gates in a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice so it could merge with US Airways.
The Justice Department rejected offers from Southwest Airlines and Delta Airlines to take over the gates.
Dallas-based Southwest Airlines already has 16 of the 20 gates at the new Love Field terminal. United has a long-term lease for two of them, and Virgin wants the remaining two.
Still, Southwest continued to lobby the city for the gates Virgin wanted, even though it did not have a formal contract with American to present to Gonzalez.
Last month, Virgin announced it would move its operations from D/FW Airport to Dallas Love Field this fall if it won the gates.
Though it was Gonzalez’s decision to make, he still had the city council briefed on the situation last week.
Virgin is already selling tickets for flights departing from Love Field. The airline would make the move in October when the Wright Amendment expires, which would allow airlines to fly from Dallas to either coast.
“We are very pleased to have the opportunity to bring new competition to Love Field, an important airport for travelers because of its proximity to the city’s central business district," said Virgin America President and CEO David Cush. "We appreciate the support of Dallas travelers and all of the Virgin America flyers and look forward to bringing a new choice to the patrons of Love Field.”
Virgin pledged to add flights to New York, Washington D.C., and eventually, Chicago. It already flies to Los Angeles and San Francisco from D/FW.