Saturday, April 26, 2014

Virgin America Creating ‘Turbulence’ At Dallas Love Field Airport (KDAL), Dallas, Texas

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A landing at Love Field Airport is creating turbulence in Dallas.

Virgin America flew in an Airbus A320 giant jet and parked it prominently at Love Field. Officials with the carrier have called a news conference for Friday morning. The airline wouldn’t say what it’s announcing. But CBS 11 News sources say the airlines planned even caught city officials off guard.

The plane is parked at the airport for the night, but not inside a hanger with other commercial planes. The airline’s Friday event is being held at Landmark Aviation, not at the city’s terminal.

Virgin America executives will be using the plane as a prop during the big announcement.

The airline has said it wants to move from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to Love Field and use two gates that American must give up as part of the US Airways merger deal with the U.S. Justice Department. But so far, sources say the government hasn’t approved Virgin’s request.

But former airline executive Mark Drusch believes executives must know something. “Otherwise, they wouldn’t be going through all this,” he said. “It costs a lot of money to fly an airplane halfway across the country, and they wouldn’t be doing it if they weren’t able to make an announcement around that.”

The City of Dallas, which owns Love Field, must also approve which airline gets to use the two gates vacated by American. Late Thursday, city officials said no decision has been made.

On a conference call to report earnings, an American Airlines executive expressed his surprise about Virgin America’s planned news conference. He said American and the City are still talking with not only Virgin America but also Southwest and Delta Airlines both of which also want the gates.

Drusch says Virgin America would force Southwest to compete on its home turf. “They’ll bring some heat which means the consumer wins.”

A lot of people, Drusch included, think the competition would lower airfares at Love Field.

CBS 11 News asked some Virgin America customers at DFW Airport what they think of the potential move to Dallas.

Kevin Parker said, “…. with the convenience of Love Field, it’d be a great thing.”

But not everyone is excited about the potential move. Airline traveler Lorraine Carlson said, “I would prefer they stay, because there’s a hub here and international travel.”

The Dallas City Council will be briefed about the airport gates on Monday, April 28.

The Justice Department isn’t commenting and Virgin America isn’t saying anything until its press event on Friday.

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