Virgin America in Love Field push ahead of city council meeting

Washington DC
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Virgin America has launched a campaign to secure two gates at Dallas Love Field airport, ahead of a Dallas City Council meeting tomorrow to discuss the award of the gates.

The airline announced last month it had been chosen by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to lease the two gates that were being divested by American Airlines, beating rival Southwest Airlines which currently dominates Love Field.

But since then, statements from the Dallas City Council have thrown ambiguity on whether Virgin America will get access to the gates. On the same day that the airline announced it had won the gates, the city posted a statement on its Twitter account: "No decisions have been made regarding carriers operating out of 2 Love Field gates."

A spokesman for the City Council tells Flightglobal that the council's members will meet tomorrow and will be briefed on the situation regarding the gates. The council's members will then direct Dallas city manager A.C. Gonzalez on how to proceed, he adds.

The spokesman reiterates that the city of Dallas owns the gates, and that the city's approval is required before any airline gets access to the gates. "It's a routine thing they have to do," he explains. He declines to comment on the certainty of Virgin America being awarded the gates, only saying that the matter is up to the city council's members to discuss.

Virgin America, in response to the uncertainty over whether it will get the gates, has launched an online petition at http://freelovefield.com to garner support for its efforts to secure the gates. It says the petition has received more than 20,000 signatures.

"Last month, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) approved Virgin America’s request to fly to five cities from just two of the 20 total gates at Dallas’ Love Field (DAL), but opponents are trying to block that move," says the carrier.

The airline is holding an event at Dallas tonight, to be attended by chief executive David Cush and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, to push its message.

Virgin has said it will launch flights to New York LaGuardia, Washington National, San Francisco and Los Angeles from Love Field in October. It will also begin service to Chicago O'Hare in 2015.