Virgin America won the love of Dallas.
The San Francisco-based carrier beat out Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines for two coveted gates at Dallas Love Field to use after the Wright Amendment restrictions lifted in October.
American Airlines, who originally leased the gates from the city, was forced to give up the gates at the 20-gate airport as a condition of its merger settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. But since the federal government required American to give the gates to increase competition at Love, the Justice Department said it would reject any proposals from the city of Dallas to give the gates to Southwest or Delta.
With the Wright Amendment flight restrictions on long-haul service at Love Field lifting, airlines clamored for access to Love Field, hoping to attract Dallas business travelers with convenient flights.
Virgin America conducted a very public campaign to "free Love Field, " bringing in its British founder, Richard Branson, to attend a rally in Dallas and record a video "love letter" to the city that was posted online.
In the end, Virgin America transferred its operations from Dallas/Fort Worth Airport to Love Field on October 13, the day the restrictions went away. The celebration featured a commercial flight from DFW landing at Love in the morning with Branson hosting an in-flight party for customers.
Virgin America flies 14 daily flights to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington D.C.’s Reagan National and New York’s LaGuardia airports from Love Field. It will add flights to Chicago O’Hare next year for a total of 18 daily flights in 2015.