The battle for Love Field is officially underway. In an effort to build support for Virgin America coming to the Dallas airport, founder Sir Richard Branson rolled out the red carpet for a couple hundred invited guests at The Rustic in Uptown on Cinco de Mayo.
Branson and Virgin America CEO and president David Cush are campaigning for two open gates at Love Field — gates, you may recall, that the Department of Justice awarded to Virgin last month. But the City of Dallas has yet to sign off on the deal, and it is still entertaining the idea of backing Southwest Airlines, which already controls 16 of the 20 gates at Love Field.
The controversy was never far from sight at the May 5 festivities. Underneath signs proclaiming "Free Love Field" and "Make it a Fare Fight," a bevy of flight attendants posed for pictures while guests enjoyed an open bar and hors d'oeuvre such as wild boar meatballs, deviled eggs and house-made empanadas.
To get the party started, Branson presented a $55,000 check to KIPP DFW and crowd surfed from the stage. Using the hashtag #LovetoFlyVirgin, guests tweeted their support of the airline. At one point, a commercial for Southwest Airlines briefly crashed the party as it played on televisions mounted throughout the restaurant.
Virgin, however, isn't backing down. In addition to selling tickets for its Love Field flights, the airline has launched a petition on Change.org. Branson has said that Virgin is prepared to fight, and he thinks "it's extremely likely" they will end up in court.
The Dallas City Council will be briefed on the issue Wednesday, May 7.