American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said Thursday that the carrier is making its “best efforts” to ensure that Virgin America gets control of two gates at Dallas Love Field that American is required to divest as part of its merger settlement with the Justice Department.
“We are using our best efforts to get those gates to Virgin as we have been directed to do,” Parker said during a symposium at the University of Texas at Arlington to mark the 40th anniversary of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport
He acknowledged that American does not own the Love Field gates; Dallas does. Parker reiterated that the Justice Department gave American a list of potential acquirers for the gates and that it included only one airline: Virgin America.
“We are extremely respectful of [the city’s] role in this process. I can’t say that enough,” Parker said.
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But, he continued, “We have a signed agreement … to get the gates to the one airline that we’ve been told is acceptable.”
Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Tennell Atkins, who was also at the symposium, said the process of awarding the gates to another carrier is “still up in the air.”
“It is not a council decision right now; it’s a city manager decision,” Atkins said.
He did note that the city manager can ask the City Council for guidance.
On Monday, the city’s transportation committee referred the issue to the entire council for a presentation. A consultant hired by the city said Southwest Airlines was the best option for the gates. Delta Air Lines has also expressed interest in them.
American leases its gates to Delta and SeaPort Airlines to use. Southwest Airlines, which controls 16 of 20 gates at Love, would like to use the two additional gates to add more flights after the Wright Amendment restrictions expire in October.
Delta and Virgin America have also proposed flights to new destinations that would begin this year.