Virgin America beats Southwest to Love Field gates

Washington DC
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Updated with Southwest statement

Virgin America has triumphed over Southwest Airlines to secure two gates at Dallas Love Field airport, allowing it to launch non-stop flights to five destinations from October.

The gates had been divested by American Airlines as part of its settlement with the US Department of Justice for approval of American's merger with US Airways. With the win of the two gates, Virgin America will relocate its Dallas operations from Dallas-Fort Worth airport to Love Field in October. The California-based carrier now serves San Francisco and Los Angeles from Dallas-Fort Worth.

Virgin America says sales begin today for the Love Field flights to New York LaGuardia, Washington National, Los Angeles and San Francisco. It will initially operate four times daily to LaGuardia, and three times daily to Washington, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The LaGuardia service begins on 28 October while the other three routes launch on 13 October.

In 2015, the carrier will add an additional daily flight from Love Field to San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, for four times daily service on each route.

The airline will also begin twice daily non-stop service from Love Field to Chicago O'Hare in 2015.

“More competition for Dallas flyers – and at an airport that is now monopoly-controlled – will bring fare discipline and product choice to local travellers. Like in any industry, when there is more competition, consumers win," says Virgin America chief executive David Cush.

Love Field is currently dominated by Southwest Airlines, which had also wanted the two gates at Love Field. It now controls 16 of the 20 gates at the airport. In response to Virgin America's win of the gates, Southwest says: "We appreciate the opportunity afforded by the [Dallas] 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."

Virgin America will compete against Southwest on the new Love Field flights to Washington National, Los Angeles and LaGuardia. Southwest has announced it will begin those flights in November, with the repeal of the Wright Amendment at the airport. Southwest will also launch service from Love Field to Chicago Midway in October.

Southwest had said in March that if it won the two gates, it could begin non-stop service to San Francisco and 11 additional cities from Love Field.

American Airlines provides non-stop service to Washington National, LaGuardia, Chicago O'Hare, Los Angeles and San Francisco from its hub at Dallas-Fort Worth, schedules in Innovata show. United Airlines also operates non-stop from Dallas-Fort Worth to Chicago O'Hare, Los Angeles and San Francisco.