Virgin America Airlines has been granted the use of two gates at Dallas Love Field, city officials say Monday.
Virgin, along with Delta and Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, had all been vying for the gates being divested by American Airlines as part of their merger with US Airways.
Last month, Virgin announced they had received approval from the Justice Department to take over the gates and that they would move their operation from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to Love. Afterward, they immediately began selling nonstop tickets to DAL.
Even with Virgin's support from the federal government, Southwest kept lobbying for the gates at the city-owned airport. Meanwhile, Virgin waged a PR campaign for the gates and their love of Love Field and the City of Dallas.
Even with the government's approval, Dallas refused to confirm who would receive the gates until Monday via Twitter.
City of Dallas has provided its consent to Virgin America sublease requested by American Airlines. Full statement forthcoming.
— City of Dallas (@1500Marilla) May 12, 2014
A short time later, the city said the following:
"While initially, the city was told to expect a collaborative process, the Justice Department eventually required American Airlines to sublease the Love Field gates to a chosen airline. The city was presented with the sublease. Rather than simply signing the sublease 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," said City Manager A.C. Gonzalesz Monday in a prepared statement. "This was accomplished by incorporating Virgin’s publicly stated intentions into a compliance agreement."
Part of the compliance agreement with the City of Dallas insures that Virgin adheres to the city's noise abatement program, that they clarify how unused gate space may be accessible to other airlines and to indemnify the city.
Virgin issued their own statement, complete with a tweet showing minority owner Sir Richard Branson covered in kisses and "feeling the love."
— Virgin America (@VirginAmerica) May 12, 2014
The airline also issued a more formal, prepared statement from CEO David Cush.
“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. We appreciate the support of Dallas travelers and all of the Virgin America fliers and look forward to bringing a new choice to the patrons of Love Field," said Cush in a prepared statement.
Southwest Airlines, understandably, had hoped for a different outcome.
“We’re very disappointed. We are proud of the offer we made the City of Dallas to expand service with our request for two additional gates at Love Field. Regardless of the decision, we are excited to share more details later this month about the new service and low fares we will offer our Customers as Wright Amendment restrictions expire this October.” said Gary Kelly, president and CEO of Southwest Airlines.
Despite their disappointment, in a tweet Southwest welcomed their competition to Love.
— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) May 12, 2014
“I applaud Mr. Gonzalez for his thorough approach to making this important decision. I support his approval of the sublease between American Airlines and Virgin America because it is best for the citizens of Dallas," said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. "I look forward to welcoming Virgin America to Love Field Airport with open arms.”
With the gates, Virgin plans to offer nonstop service between Love Field (DAL) and San Francisco (SFO), Los Angeles (LAX), New York LaGuardia (LGA), and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). The company said SFO, LAX and DCA to DAL flight service starts on Oct. 13, 2014, and LGA to DAL flight service starts on Oct. 28, 2014.