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Dallas Love Field gates future unclear in Alaska Airlines-Virgin America merger

Sir Richard Branson arriving at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport for Virgin America’s inaugural service to North Texas in 2010. The carrier served DFW until 2014 when it moved its flights to Dallas Love Field. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley)
Sir Richard Branson arriving at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport for Virgin America’s inaugural service to North Texas in 2010. The carrier served DFW until 2014 when it moved its flights to Dallas Love Field. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley) Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

The proposed merger between Alaska Airlines and Virgin America will have little immediate impact on North Texas travelers.

Both airlines currently serve the Metroplex with a handful of flights. Alaska Airlines operates daily flights to Portland, Ore. and Seattle from Dallas/Fort Worth Airport while Virgin America operates daily flights from Dallas Love Field to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Washington D.C. Reagan and New York LaGuardia airports.

Virgin America, however, beat out other airlines to obtain two gates at Dallas Love Field and it is unclear if Alaska plans to keep those gates since it already operates out of DFW.

“We are going to be taking a look at all of these,” said Alaska Airlines chief commercial officer Andrew Harrison in reference to the Love Field gates and East Coast airport slots that Alaska is acquiring in the merger. “What we do know is that these are very valuable assets.”

Dallas Love Field director Mark Duebner said he had no comment as “we have not received any information regarding Virgin America’s operations at Dallas Love Field.”

Sir Richard Branson, who owns 22 percent of Virgin America, said he was sad that the airline was merging and noted that since his shares are non-voting shares, there was little he could do to prevent the deal.

 
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Branson has been a prolific spokesman for Virgin America, attending inaugural flights for the carrier and even penned a love letter to Dallas as Virgin America fought to gain two gates at Dallas Love Field.

“Airports where competition was stifled and prices prohibitively high – in cities like Dallas, Newark, Chicago and Denver – have opened up and customers have more choice. Because of Virgin America, the industry finally had to consider the customer,” Branson wrote in a blog post on Monday.

Alaska Airlines also has a code-share partnership with American Airlines that was expanded in 2013. At that time, American added its code on 22 new routes operated by Alaska, mostly out of San Francisco while Alaska added its code on 19 American routes out of Los Angeles and DFW.

“We have an excellent relationship with Alaska Airlines and we anticipate that will continue,” American said in a statement on Monday.

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