Posted on: 25 April 2014 by Mark Howells
Virgin America has launched sales on its new flights from Dallas Love Field (DAL) to New York La Guardia (LGA), Washington Reagan National (DCA), Los Angeles International (LAX) and San Francisco International (SFO) airports, all of which are scheduled to begin in October 2014
Virgin America was selected by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) for the award of two Love Field gates being divested as part of the American Airlines/US Airways merger settlement.
“A recent opinion piece in The Dallas Morning News on Love Field noted that 'competition requires competitors' and we couldn't agree more. In response to the creation of now four 'mega-airlines', the Justice Department has taken steps to ensure that consumers are protected from this unprecedented consolidation by allowing room for low-fare competition in key markets that are increasingly dominated by massive carriers,” commented Virgin America president and CEO David Cush. “More competition for Dallas flyers – and at an airport that is now monopoly-controlled – will bring fare discipline and product choice to local travellers. Like in any industry, when there is more competition, consumers win.”
Virgin America’s flights from DAL, the airline noted, will bring “needed fare and product competition to the market. At present, one carrier [Southwest Airlines] controls 80% of the Love Field gates (16 of 20) and more than 90% of the traffic. An August 2013 study conducted by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers found that of airports in its size class, DAL had the largest increase in average fares from 2007-2012 – a 37% jump”.
The addition of Love Field will significantly expand Virgin America's presence in Texas. SFO, LAX and DCA to DAL flights (with initial frequencies of 3 a day each) are scheduled to start on 13 October with four-times daily LGA to DAL service beginning on 28 October.
In 2015, Virgin America plans to add an additional daily flight from DAL to SFO, LAX and DCA, bringing each route to four daily nonstop flights. In addition, the airline plans to add two new daily nonstop flights from DAL to Chicago O’Hare in 2015. Virgin America will move its current operations from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) to DAL in October 2014.
“Dallas is a global center of industry and it deserves more business-friendly flight options from the airport most convenient to downtown,” added Cush. “The opportunity to expand our service at Love allows us to not only spur more fare competition, but also provide travellers with a different kind of flight option – one that allows them to stay connected, comfortable and productive on long-haul flights to major business destinations.”
The new routes will also expand Virgin America’s footprint in Washington DC and New York. In the last six months, the airline invested in assets being sold as part of the American Airlines merger settlement, including airport slots at LGA and DCA – both airports “where access historically has been constrained and where consumers have had less fare and product competition as a result”. Virgin America will be only the second low-fare airline to serve all three major New York-area airports.