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May 09, 2014

Still no decision on Dallas Love Field gates

As the week came to a close, there was still no decision on who will get two gates at Dallas Love Field.

Dallas city manager A.C. Gonzalez had told city council on Wednesday that he expected to make a decision by the end of the week. But late Friday evening, the city issued a statement saying a decision had not bee made.

“The City Manager in consultation with the City Attorney continues to review and consider all the relevant information regarding the Love Field gate leases,” the statement said.

Virgin America, Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines are all vying for use of two gates that American Airlines is forced to divest as part of its antitrust settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice related to its merger with US Airways.

In a letter sent to the city earlier this week, the Justice Department concluded that divesting the gates to Virgin America would increase competition at Love Field and was the only airline that would fufill the terms of American’s settlement with the government. American does not currently use the gates at Love Field, but subleases them to Delta and Seaport Airlines.

The Justice Department said it would reject proposals from the city that would give the gates to Southwest or Delta. With the Wright Amendment flight restrictions on long-haul service at Love Field expiring on Oct. 13, airlines have clamored for access to Love Field, hoping to attract Dallas business travelers with convenient flights.

Following a Dallas City Council meeting on Wednesday, Virgin America’s chief executive David Cush said he was “highly confident” that his airline would receive the gates. The airline conducted a very public campaign to “free Love Field,” bringing in Virgin’s British founder Richard Branson to attend a rally in Dallas and write a “love letter” to the city.

Virgin America operates six daily flights at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport to San Francisco and Los Angeles and plans to move its operations to Love Field in October if they get the gates.

Southwest has said it would use the two extra gates to add 20 more flights to 5 additional destinations. The Dallas-based carrier has 16 of the 20 gates at Love Field for operations. United Airlines operates the remaining two gates at Love Field.

“It’s not about Love Field. It’s about the whole market,” Kelly said on Wednesday. “We simply would love the opportunity to grow more.”

-Andrea Ahles

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