Virgin America has been awarded two gates that have been fiercely contested over at Dallas Love Field
The City of Dallas made the selection official on Monday afternoon after weeks of intense public relations campaigns by both Virgin and Southwest.
But the city said in a statement that “contrary to reports, this was not a competition,” over the two gates. That would be news to execs at both airlines, who made public pitches and granted numerous interviews in an effort to win the gates.
Virgin America’s Twitter account posted a photo of Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson covered in kisses and said “Feeling the love! Huge thanks to the 27k who signed our petition. See you soon @DallasLoveField. #LoveToFlyVirgin”
Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said in a statement the airline was "very disappointed" by the decision.
"We are proud of the offer we made the City of Dallas to expand service with our request for two additional gates at Love Field," Kelly said, promising details later in May about expanded Southwest service at Love Field.
American Airlines was ordered by the U.S. Department of Justice to give up the two gates as part of its merger with U.S. Airways.
The city said in a statement on Monday it was expecting a collaborative process with the feds to select who would take control of the gates. But, instead the city was presented with one option – Virgin America.
The city said the delay in finalizing any agreement came from making sure the city’s actions “would be responsible and capture the vision of the Justice Department’s selected carrier.”
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said the selection of Virgin was "best for the citizens of Dallas" in a statement released by the city.
"I look forward to welcoming Virgin America to Love Field Airport with open arms,” Rawlings said.
Dallas said it now has commitments from Virgin to the standards included in the City’s noise abatement program, clarifies how unused gates could be made open to other airlines and protects the city from “possible legal expense through an indemnification clause.”
Southwest Airlines already controls 16 of the 20 gates at Love Field. It had said the two additional gates could offer a dozen more non-stop destinations from Dallas and help the airline become more competitive with American Airlines.
Virgin has already started selling tickets for flights out of Love Field that will begin in October. Virgin will fly to four cities - San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York (LaGuardia) and Washington D.C. (Reagan National). Service to Chicago (O'Hare) begins in 2015.
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