DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The battle for two gates at Dallas Love Field could finally come to an end on Wednesday. Three different airlines are hoping to score those gates, and Dallas City Council members are expected to discuss the issue and make their recommendation.
The gates had belonged to American Airlines. However, the carrier has been forced to give up those Dallas Love Field gates as part of its merger with US Airways. Three companies — Southwest Airlines, Virgin America and Delta Air Lines — have all stepped up to try and land those desired two gates.
The U.S. Department of Justice, which regulates competition, narrowed those options to just one, selecting Virgin America as the carrier to grab the Dallas Love Field gates. Virgin America has even started selling tickets for flights from Dallas Love Field, beginning later this year. However, the Dallas City Council gets the final say, and they have not yet made a decision.
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly was at Dallas City Hall on Wednesday morning to participate in the discussion. Company employees cheered his arrival. But in a letter to the city, the U.S. Department of Justice said that it opposes the gates going to Southwest Airlines because the carrier would then dominate 90 percent of the Dallas Love Field gates, denying customers the benefits of meaningful competition.
Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin America, has been in Dallas to lobby for his airline. “What I’ve come here to say is, basically, competition is good, not only for the traveling public, but it’s also good for those airlines who receive the competition,” Branson stated.
Southwest Airlines argued that Virgin America would not add any new cities for travelers, whereas they plan to add 12 new destinations.
Kelly also said that Virgin America should stay at DFW International Airport — it would leave if awarded the Dallas Love Field gates. He sees the real competition on a larger scale, between the two airports. “The point is, this is one market, and we’ll have 9 percent of the total capacity of the DFW market with the gates we have. American has over 70 percent capacity, so that’s where the competition needs to be,” Kelly said. “American is the big dominant player in the market, and our real estate is at Love Field.”
The decision made on Wednesday could affect Dallas Love Field for years to come. The final call will come from A.C. Gonzalez, the city manager.
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