More than two weeks after Virgin America announced it had secured two gates at Dallas Love Field airport, the city has finally agreed to sign off on the deal. The U.S. Department of Justice awarded the gates as part of the American Airlines/US Airways merger settlement in April. Delta and Southwest Airlines also submitted bids for the open gates but were rejected by the feds.
Although the deal was at a standstill until City Manager A.C. Gonzalez gave it his seal of approval, Virgin never acted as though it stood a chance of losing the gates. The same day it called dibs on the open gates, the airline began selling tickets on October flights departing from Love Field to New York, LA and San Francisco.
The Dallas City Council played charades with the deal for weeks, holding two hearings on the gates and entertaining a report from LEK Consulting that enthusiastically backed Southwest Airlines. Council member Phillip Kingston called the prolonged conversations surrounding the decision "a pretty profound waste of time."
While the city wavered, Virgin geared up for a fight, flying in founder Richard Branson and CEO David Cush for meetings and parties to drum up Dallas support for the airline. Using the catchphrase Free Love Field, Virgin's change.org petition gained more than 27,000 signatures in less than a week. With the fight for Love Field behind him, Cush is focusing on the future.
"We are very pleased to have the opportunity to bring new competition to Love Field, an important airport for travelers because of its proximity to the city's central business district," he said in a May 12 statement. "We appreciate the support of Dallas travelers and all of the Virgin America flyers and look forward to bringing a new choice to the patrons of Love Field."