By Jack Fink

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — Dallas City Manager A.C. Gonzalez told city council members he expects to decide this Friday which airline will get to use two gates at Love Field Airport.

Virgin America, Southwest Airlines, and Delta Airlines all want to use them.

Mayor Mike Rawlings couldn’t help but take note, “We should all be doing high-fives. This is great.”

The Mayor says he believes competition is good, but wouldn’t say who he favored to win the gates.

The council briefing attracted Southwest CEO Gary Kelly, Virgin America CEO David Cush, and Delta Airline’s Director of Government Affairs Jeff Davidman.

On Monday, the U.S. Justice Department wrote the city a letter saying Virgin America is the only airline it approves of using the two gates.

American Airlines is sub-leasing the gates to Virgin America as part of its deal with the Justice Department to merge with US Airways.

The Justice Department told the city that it would reject the city’s attempts to have Southwest or Delta use the gates. The government says Virgin America would bring competition into the airport dominated by Southwest.

But as the hometown airline, Southwest has lobbied the city hard for the gates.

The airline previously made an argument to council members that the city has a right to decide for itself who should get the gates. The city manager must sign-off on who gets the gates.

A consultant hired by the city concluded Southwest should use the two gates because it would be best for the airport and residents.

Councilwoman Vonciel Jones Hill indicated she favors Southwest. “The private parties exercised their responsibility. The Justice Department has exercised its authority, now it’s the city’s turn, and it’s not dictated by anyone, but this council.”

But councilman Philip Kingston said the city’s obligated to consent to American’s sub-lease of the gates to Virgin America. He called the process a “profound waste of time.”

After the council briefing, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly repeated that Southwest provides the lowest fares in the U.S. and that his airline will provide more non-stop destinations than Virgin America.

David Cush, Virgin America’s CEO, said he remains confident they will get to use the two gates.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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