Comment and analysis on all things Charlotte

Virgin America gets Dallas Love Field gates

And that means no Dallas Love Field flight on Southwest to Charlotte. And with this comes a lesson in exactly how stupid and even antitrust counterproductive policy can be. Recall that for political reasons Love Field (DAL), which is where Southwest flies from in the Dallas metroplex, is limited to only 20 gates. Southwest controls 16, United two, and American two. As part of the deal to get the American Airlines/US Airways merger approved, American agreed to give up a number of gates, including the two it controls at Love Field.

So the Department of Justice invited bids to see who would get Americans’ two gates. American though doesn’t actually currently fly to Love Field. Rather it subleases its two gates to Delta Air Lines. So Delta requested the gates, so it could continue flying from the airport. Southwest, unsurprisingly, also asked for the gates, so that it could increase service from Love Field and those compete in more markets with American, its cross town rival. (American’s biggest hub is at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), which Southwest doesn’t fly to.) And among the places Southwest said it would add a flight to from Love Field if it got the extra gates was Charlotte. Virgin America also asked for the gates.

So who got the gates? Virgin America, so it could shift its flights from DFW, where it of course competes directly against American, over to DAL so it could compete directly on exactly five routes (Los Angeles, Chicago, New York LaGuardia, San Francisco, and Washington Reagan National) against Southwest. Got that?

And it gets worse. So where is Virgin America getting the planes from to fly its new Love Field flights? Why it’s suspending service to Philadelphia, a major US airways hub… You just can’t make this up…

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