A top executive for the Seattle-based carrier said Wednesday it will retain a presence at both North Texas airports, ending uncertainty that has lingered over the matter since Alaska bought Virgin America last year.
“We’re keeping both for sure. We love Love Field,” Ben Minicucci, Alaska’s president and Virgin America’s chief executive officer, told Bloomberg News on Wednesday. He noted, however, that Virgin America’s five destinations from Love Field may change.
As part of its merger, Alaska gained two gates at Love Field that Virgin America received from the federal government as a condition of American Airlines’ merger with US Airways. While Alaska hadn’t publicly addressed the future of those gates, spokeswoman Bobbie Egan said the airline has always intended to maintain its service in North Texas.
“In their approval of the acquisition, the DOJ did require that we give notice to the DOJ if we were going to do anything differently,” Egan said. “I don’t think we ever said we weren’t going to serve both DFW and Love Field.”
Virgin America currently offers daily flights to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington from Love Field, while Alaska offers daily flights to Portland, Ore., and Seattle from DFW.
Initially, Alaska indicated it might continue to operate flights under the Virgin America name. But last month it said that the Virgin name would join the list of airlines that have disappeared following mergers including US Airways, AirTran and Continental.
Since the Wright Amendment restrictions were dropped on flights from Love Field and its gates were capped to 20, airlines have sought to keep gate space at the Dallas airport.
Southwest Airlines controls 18 of the 20 gates at Love Field while Alaska now controls the remaining two. Delta Air Lines operates five daily flights to Atlanta from a Southwest gate that Delta has fought to keep access to as part of a federal lawsuit.