Decision on Love Field gates has not been made, executives say

04/24/2014 6:26 PM

04/24/2014 10:01 PM

A final decision has not been made on which airline will get control of two gates at Dallas Love Field that American Airlines must divest.

Virgin America has scheduled a media event today to discuss its “Dallas operations,” leading to speculation that the airline has landed the gates. But airline executives said Thursday that the future of the two Love Field gates is still undetermined and that Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines remain in the running.

Steve Johnson, a senior vice president at American, said it will be a couple of weeks before the winner of those gates is named. As part of its settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice to gain approval of its merger with US Airways, American was required to give up takeoff and landing slots and gates at several airports across the country.

“We know that there are discussions going on … Southwest and Delta are still making a case that they should be entitled to this and it will still be a couple of weeks before we know how this is all settled,” Johnson said during American’s earnings call with analysts. “I’ll say that I was surprised when I found out they had called a press conference.”

Southwest Airlines has also expressed interest in the gates. On its earnings conference call Thursday, Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly called the gates a “modest opportunity” for the Dallas-based carrier. Without them, Southwest will control 16 of the 20 gates at Love Field once the terminal renovations are completed and the Wright Amendment restrictions expire in October.

“We are waiting patiently to see what the next step is in the process. As far as I am aware, we are still in the running for consideration,” Kelly said.

Delta Air Lines, which also wants to use the two gates at Love Field, issued a statement saying that the Dallas City Council will make the ultimate decision.

“The city has a longstanding objective of converting leased gates at Love Field to common use gates managed by the city, to ensure that there will be adequate competition and opportunities for new airline service after the Wright Amendment ends in October,” Delta said. “We are steadfast in our belief that the highest and best use of the two Love Field gates being divested by American Airlines is for them to return to the City of Dallas and be managed as common use gates.”

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