DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Virgin America’s iconic founder Sir Richard Branson says he is baffled his airline is being forced to fight for two gates at Dallas Love Field Airport.
On Monday night, Branson flew into Dallas and held a big party at the Rustic restaurant to build support for Virgin America’s planned move from DFW Airport to Love Field this October. The airline has collected more than 20-thousand signatures supporting the move on its new website, freelovefield.com.
Also on Monday, the Justice Department sent the City of Dallas a letter stating Virgin America is the only airline that should use the two gates.
Branson is blaming Southwest Airlines for the delay in getting the city’s OK to use the gates and said he’s willing to take the fight as far as he can.
“I think we’ll do whatever it takes to get the gates. We believe right is on our side,” said Branson. “The Department of Justice has said the right airline that should have these gates is Virgin America. That will bring the most competition to the airport.”
Virgin America is currently sub-leasing the gates from American Airlines, which has to give them up as part of its deal to merge with US Airways. However, Southwest wants those gates and has lobbied the city for them. A consultant hired by the city manager also recommended Southwest get the gates.
“I am, to be honest, slightly surprised that the intense lobbying from Southwest has delayed the process,” said Branson.
Southwest Airlines says it has a right to fight for the gates because it’s the fifth largest taxpayer in Dallas.
The full city council will be briefed on this matter at a meeting on Wednesday. Council members will give direction to the city manager, who must sign off on which airline can use the gates.
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