A decision on the fate of two Love Field gates being divested by American Airlines will come by the end of the week, the Dallas city manager told the City Council today.
“My intention is to come to a conclusion by the end of the week,” city manager A.C. Gonzalez said after the council spent more than an hour in closed session discussing the future of the gates.
Southwest Airlines and Virgin America both want to take control of gates at Love Field that American Airlines is required to divest as part of its antitrust settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice. Delta Air Lines is leasing the gates from American and also wants to use the gates permanently.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said he will support whatever decision Gonzalez makes and is excited that there are several airlines wanting to do business with the city of Dallas.
“I believe competition is good,” Rawlings said. “It is a growth driver for this city and the allocation of gates ... is an important issue that the council should understand.”
Both Southwest’s chief executive, Gary Kelly, and Virgin America CEO David Cush attended the meeting.
Kelly said he was not surprised that no decision was made and reiterated the Dallas-based carrier’s position that it can provide more low fares to Dallas residents, adding 20 flights to five additional destinations, if it gets the gates. Southwest already controls 16 of the 20 gates at Love.
“If it’s more affordable air that you want in the city of Dallas, Southwest is your answer,” Kelly said to the media following the meeting.
Cush said he does not plan to contact Gonzalez prior to the announcement of the decision as he believes they have made their position clear and are highly confident they will receive the gates.
“We’ve been confident since day one,” Cush said
Earlier this week, Virgin’s founder, Sir Richard Branson, held a party in Dallas to rally supporters for Virgin America.
Since Virgin America already has an agreement with American to take over the gates and is the Justice Department’s only approved choice to receive the gates, Branson said he believes the fight should already be over. Justice has been overseeing the sale of gates and slots at major airport nationwide as part of a deal to approve American’s merger with US Airways.
“I think with Virgin competing against Southwest here, it will be good for the traveling public,” Branson said in an interview on Tuesday morning. “If someone has 100 percent of the market, then fares will go up and the quality of service will suffer.”