Sir Richard Branson Comes to Dallas to Fight Southwest

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Virgin America Airlines founder Sir Richard Branson plans a Dallas rally Monday night to fight for gates at Dallas Love Field.

    Virgin America Airlines founder Sir Richard Branson is visiting Dallas to fight for gates at Love Field.

    The U.S. Justice Department recommended the two gates American Airlines must surrender in its merger agreement with US Airways be awarded to Virgin.

    A Delta Air Lines affiliate is currently subleasing the gates.

    One-on-One with Richard Branson

    [DFW] One-on-One with Richard Branson
    NBC 5's Jeff Smith sat down with billionaire Virgin Airlines founder Sir Richard Branson to talk about why he wants two gates up for grabs at Dallas Love Field.

    "The spirit of the agreement was they would give it to low-cost airlines," said FareCompare.com's Rick Seaney. "Certainly Delta doesn’t meet that."

    Seaney said he supports giving the Love Field gates to Virgin to help it grow and compete with large carriers.

    "The market place with so few brand name airlines needs competition to keep prices down," Seaney said.

    Virgin announced last month it is already selling tickets for flights it intends to operate from the Love Field gates.

    But soon after the Virgin announcement, city officials said they had hired a consultant who recommended Southwest Airlines should get the gates to better serve consumers.

    The consultant said Virgin would relocate service it currently provides at DFW Airport, but Southwest would add new service from Love Field.

    Southwest passengers at Love Field Monday had mixed feelings about how the gates should be used.

    "I prefer Virgin because they have more technology on their planes for their passengers," passenger Jay Gibson said.

    "I would probably stick with Southwest," passenger Diane Morgan said. "I would say they do a great job, I've flown with them for years, and I don't know that I would even pick another carrier."

    Virgin has been seeking passenger signatures on a petition supporting its position.

    Branson's rally was held Monday night at the Rustic Restaurant and night spot in Uptown Dallas.

    It is timed before a Dallas City Council meeting Wednesday where the gate decision will be discussed and the end of long distance nonstop flight restrictions at the airport in October.

    Southwest expects a big increase in business when more nonstop destinations become available and Virgin wants a cut of that business.