If you or anyone you know has ever flown into Love Field, odds are they’ve flown in on Southwest Airlines, whose headquarters have been based at Love Field since 1971. Since 2003, Southwest has been the main commercial airline servicing Love Field, but Sir Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group thinks it’s high time for a little “healthy competition.”
Branson recently came to Dallas to help Virgin America Airlines secure two gates at Love Field. He held a private event in Big D on May 5 as the kickoff to a petition drive meant to show public support for the airline’s efforts to “free Love Field and make it a fare fight.
Branson and Virgin are looking to snatch the vacancy left by American Airlines, which, as the result of an antitrust settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, is being forced to divest its two gates at LUV. The grassroots effort mirrors other Virgin campaigns to get space at airports around the country, and Dallas (if not Southwest) seems to be on board with the idea to open Love Field to Virgin. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, some 21,000 people turned out for Branson’s visit and support the airline’s cause. Virgin already services DFW Airport.
Branson’s Cinquo de Mayo visit was the next step in Virgin’s petition, which began a few days prior as a petition on Change.org. His appeal was an emotional one:
Imagine any industry without competition. In the airline business that would mean sky-high fares, no choice, fewer amenities and an experience that leaves travelers feeling more like cattle than customers. Not a pretty picture.
But that very scenario could play out at Dallas Love Field without your voice.
Today, a single airline controls 90% of the traffic, 80% of the gates, and now they want more. Love Field travelers have already been shocked by average fares that jumped 37% from 2007-2012 – the largest fare increase for an airport of this size in the U.S. (according to a MIT study conducted last August). Unbelievable, right?
When Virgin America launched its DFW-California flights in 2010 it helped lower fares in the market at the time by more than 30%. Its new flights to San Francisco, LA, NYC, DC and Chicago will also bring more choice to Love, with new planes that offer three classes of service, WiFi, power outlets and touch-screen seatback entertainment on every flight.
Tell the City of Dallas Leaders you think there’s room for a little healthy competition at Love.