DALLAS — Competition will soon be landing at Dallas Love Field.
Friday morning Virgin America announced it will now offer flights to and from Dallas Love Field Airport.
"This is a big state and there's room for a little healthy competition at Love," said Don Carty, chairman of Virgin America. "When there's more competition, consumers are the winners."
Flanked by flight attendants wearing red suits and black cowboy hats, Carty and Virgin CEO and president David Cush announced the airline's move from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to Love Field effective October, when the Wright Amendment expires.
Tickets went on sale Friday for 13 daily nonstops to New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and San Francisco. Flights to Chicago will be added in 2015. They announced a special fare of $79 available through noon April 26 for a limited number of tickets.
The deal to move to Love Field was reached with American Airlines, which was forced to vacate two gates at the airport after its bankruptcy and merger with US Airways. Virgin Airlines has been operating out of two gates at D/FW Airport since 2010.
"We've been slowly putting this plan together, buying slots at LaGuardia, buying spots at Reagan, spending tens of millions to do that, but knowing this is the crown jewel," Cush said. "We're happy it's all coming together."
The Department of Justice approved the agreement for American to hand over the gates to Virgin, but the city of Dallas has yet to sign off on it. The city council's transporation committee has a meeting Monday and the transfer of the gates is expected to be discussed. When asked if he was surprised Virgin made the announcement before he voted on the deal, council member Sheffie Kadane said, "kind of."
"That's a big corporate decision do that," he said. "It could be premature."
Cush said Love Field's location is a perfect fit for Virgin's brand.
"What's exciting about this airport is its proximity to downtown Dallas, to Uptown," he said. "And you throw in the wealth of the Park Cities and beyond and it's a great demographic. It's convenient and we think people are going to like it."
Cush said fares should go down as competition goes up. He believes business travelers will see 20 to 50 percent savings.
He also acknowledged competing with Southwest Airlines on their home turf is ambitious.
"We've got a tremendous amount of respect for Southwest," he said. "We compete with them quite a bit on the west coast, but we also realize they have a very different product, a successful model, but a different product. Our product is built a little more on the high-end traveler, people who want advanced seat assignments, entertainment, first class."
Southwest Airlines released the following statement after Virgin's announcement:
"We appreciate the opportunity afforded by the City Council to show how the Southwest plan is best for Customers, Employees, local businesses, and the City of Dallas as a whole. We look forward to offering a flight schedule this October that our Dallas Customers have long deserved."