Dallas City Manager A.C. Gonzalez said a decision on the fate of two gates at Dallas Love Field will happen by the end of the week.
The Dallas City Council discussed the gate issue behind closed doors and in a public council session on Wednesday morning.
Virgin America, Southwest Airlines and Delta are the three airlines who have publicly declared their interests in two gates at Love Field that American Airlines is required to give up due to its merger with US Airways.
Virgin is the choice of the U.S. Justice Department, which forced American to give up the gates to settle an anti-trust lawsuit. But, the decision from the city's perspective on the gates is up to the city manager since he must approve the transfer of any gates.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said he favored competition at Love Field.
“I believe competition is good,” Rawlings said. “It is a growth driver for this city.”
Councilman Philip Kingston, who has publicly stated the council should have stayed out of the gate debate, said the past few weeks had been a "profound waste of time" by the council.
"Our obligation is to live up to the terms of the contract we have signed,” Kingston said.
The Department of Justice sent a letter on Monday restating the two gates should go to Virgin as it “has no existing presence at Love Field and will introduce a new competitor” for Southwest. Southwest presently controls 16 of the 20 gates at Love Field.
Both Southwest and Virgin have been in a PR battle throughout the week.
Virgin Group founder Richard Branson was at a party and rally for Virgin in Uptown on Monday and sat down for media interviews on Tuesday.
Virgin also released a video on Wednesday of Branson writing a “love letter” to Love Field.
Southwest made CEO Gary Kelly available on Wednesday before the council meeting.
“We're the low-fare leader in the United States and we'll save $200 million in airfares if you have
Southwest with these two additional gates,” Kelly said outside City Hall. “So we'll continue to make that argument, we think that's what's best for the city.”
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