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April 24, 2014

What's really going on with those divested gates at Love Field?

Wright Amendment one year away 41After Virgin America set up a press event for Friday about its "Dallas operations," everybody has been asking what's really going on with those two gates that American Airlines is required to divest at Love Field.

According to American Airlines executive vice president Steve Johnson, it will be a couple of weeks before we know who will be the winner of those gates. 

Here's what Johnson said on American's earnings conference call this morning:

"We know that there are discussions going on. There are discussions among the two airlines and Dallas and the city of Dallas that owns the airport. But Southwest and Delta are still making a case that they should be entitled to this and it will still be a couple of weeks before we know how this is all settled...I'll say that I was surprised when I found out they had called a press conference."

Southwest Airlines has expressed interest in the gates and on its earnings conference call, chief executive Gary Kelly called the gates a "modest opportunity" for the Dallas-based carrier.

"We are waiting patiently to see what the next step is in the process. As far as I am aware we are still in the running for consideration," Kelly said.

Delta Air Lines, which also wants to use the two gates at Love Field, issued this statement, saying that the Dallas City Council will make the ultimate decision.

"The City of Dallas is best positioned to decide the future of these two gates based on what is best for the citizens and businesses of Dallas. The City has a longstanding objective of converting leased gates at Love Field to common use gates managed by the City, to ensure that there will be adequate competition and opportunities for new airline service after the Wright Amendment ends in October. 

"The final decision on this will ultimately be made by the Dallas City Council. While American was bound by its merger settlement with the Department of Justice to release its gates, any sublease proposed by American must be approved by the City Council. If the City exercises its right to not approve the sublease, the airport can operate them as common use.

"Delta remains committed to serving Dallas Love Field Airport and D/FW Airport in the months and years ahead. We are steadfast in our belief that the highest and best use of the two Love Field gates being divested by American Airlines is for them to return to the City of Dallas and be managed as common use gates."

-Andrea Ahles

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