The battle for the two gates at Dallas Love Field divested by American as part of its merger settlement with the DOJ is over. The winner: Competition.
In this case, competition takes the form of Virgin America, which plans to use the two new gates to launch flights to LaGuardia, Washington National, and Chicago O'Hare, and to relocate its current Los Angeles and San Francisco flights from Dallas-Ft. Worth to Love Field.
It had been assumed that Virgin America was a shoo-in to be awarded the gates, not least because the DOJ had stipulated that American's replacement should come from the ranks of the low-cost carriers. But Southwest, which already controls 80 percent of Love Field's gates, made a strong last-minute bid to consolidate its lock on the airport. And the Dallas City Council, respectful of Southwest's political and economic clout in the region, gave the airline and its lobbyists plenty of time to make their case.
Virgin America, for its part, countered with a multi-part outreach program, including a dedicated website, www.freelovefield, a petition initiative, and very public appearances by Sir Richard Branson, the airline's unofficial mascot and part owner.
Whether the City Council succumbed to the compelling logic of enhancing competition or the fetching vision of Virgin America flight attendants sporting cowboy boots and Stetsons, we'll never know. But they did make the pro-competitive choice and gave the nod to Virgin America.
In the end, Southwest was a good sport about Virgin America's win, tweeting "@VirginAmerica Welcome to the neighborhood! #DallasLove."
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.