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Virgin America Plans Dallas Expansion: Airline Wants To Bring More Business-Friendly, Low-Fare Flight Competition To Dallas With New Flights From Love Field

Award-winning Airline Plans to Expand in the Big D with a Move to Love Field (DAL) and New Daily Nonstop Flights from DAL to LaGuardia (LGA), Washington National (DCA), Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO) and Chicago O'Hare (ORD)

SAN FRANCISCO, March 5, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Virgin America today announces plans to significantly expand its Dallas presence by operating new daily nonstop flights from Dallas' Love Field (DAL) to New York's LaGuardia Airport (LGA), Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD).   In addition to adding new service from Love Field to major business destinations such as New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago, the airline plans to increase flights to current destinations (San Francisco and Los Angeles) from Dallas. Virgin America is seeking to secure two Love Field gates in order to expand flight options for Dallas travelers, as the airport's centralized location makes it a more convenient choice for Dallas-based and Dallas-destined business travelers.  If successful, the airline would move its current operations from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) to Love Field in October 2014.  Virgin America would be the only carrier at Love Field to offer guests three classes of service, WiFi, in-seat power outlets and touch-screen seatback entertainment (including live TV) on every flight.  In addition, the airline operates a new fleet of Airbus A320-Family aircraft, which are significantly quieter than the commercial aircraft currently in use at Love Field[1].

Virgin America's ability to offer these new flights to Dallas travelers is contingent on obtaining two Love Field gates that are being divested by American Airlines as part of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) settlement agreement resolving American Airline's merger with US Airways.  As part of the merger settlement, DOJ required the divestiture of gates at several domestic airports to facilitate entry and expansion by low-cost airlines, where consumer competition could be negatively impacted by the unprecedented consolidation this latest merger represents.  Virgin America's new flights from Dallas would provide vigorous competition in a market where at present one carrier controls 80 percent of the gates at Love Field (16 of 20 gates).  Earlier this year, Virgin America invested in divestiture assets being sold as part of the merger settlement, including 12 airport slots at LGA (six slot pairs) and eight slots at DCA (four slot pairs), both airports where legacy carriers have historically dominated operations and where consumers have suffered from lack of service competition and higher fares as a consequence.   With the planned divestiture of Love Field gates, Virgin America would be able to offer Dallas customers a competing network of flights to large business markets from Love Field.  

"As the last major airline launched in the U.S., we've seen firsthand what happens when new entrant airlines have a chance to come into markets where a few big airlines dominate – service improves and fares drop.  In response to the creation of now four 'mega-airlines,' the Justice Department has taken important steps to allow some new entrant competition at key airports in New York, Washington and Dallas," said Virgin America President and CEO David Cush.  "The opening of access to these slot-constrained and gate-constrained airports is an infrequent occurrence at best, and we hope to have the opportunity to expand our network and continue doing what we do best:  deliver the best product in the domestic skies, and inject sorely needed fare competition in business markets where it is currently lacking."

Launched in August 2007, Virgin America is a case study for how new entrant airline competition can directly improve fares and service for consumers.  When Virgin America entered the SFO-Chicago O'Hare (ORD) market in 2011 and the SFO-Dallas market in 2010, fares dropped in each market at the time by more than 30 percent.  In 2013, after years of trying to secure access at the slot-controlled Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), the carrier launched flights from SFO and LAX to EWR.  Before the airline entered the EWR market in April 2013, those routes had some of the highest fares in the nation, and one route – SFO-EWR – was monopoly controlled by a single airline.  After Virgin America entered EWR, fares dropped by more than one-third, and travelers headed to California from one of the biggest business-travel airports in the nation had access for the first time to guaranteed WiFi, power outlets and live TV on every flight.  

"Dallas is a major economic center, and as such, it deserves more business-friendly flight competition from the airport closest to the Central Business District," added Cush.  "The opportunity to expand our low-fare, upscale service in Dallas, allows us to not only spur fare competition for local consumers, but also provide business travelers with more choice and consistent flight options, so they can stay connected, comfortable and productive on these longer-haul flights."

The Love Field plans would significantly expand Virgin America's presence in Texas, which now consists of three daily nonstop flights from both LAX and SFO to DFW as well as its popular SFO-Austin flights.  In addition, the new routes would expand the airline's presence in both Washington D.C. and the New York area.  The carrier will be only the second low-cost airline to serve all three major New York-area airports. Virgin America has built a loyal following of bi-coastal flyers with its nonstop flights from LAX and SFO to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and EWR.

Virgin America's service to and from DAL would begin from October 2014, after the expiration of the Wright Amendment, which has restricted flights at Love Field since 1979.  The airline would plan to operate daily nonstop flights from October 2014 and would announce full schedules for the following routes should the Love Field gates be approved:

  • DAL to LGA (four roundtrip flights a day).
  • DAL to DCA (four roundtrip flights a day).
  • DAL to LAX (three roundtrip flights a day, expanding to four in 2015).
  • DAL to SFO (three roundtrip flights a day, expanding to four in 2015).

In addition, the airline would add two roundtrip flights a day from DAL to Chicago O'Hare in early 2015.   

Virgin America reported profitable financial results and industry-leading margin growth in the second and third quarters of 2013.  The airline is slated to take delivery of 10 new Airbus A320-Family aircraft in 2015 and 2016. As the only airline headquartered in California, Virgin America serves nine of the top 10 business markets from SFO and eight of the top 10 business markets from LAX. 

Virgin America is the U.S. domestic airline known for its inventive service and three beautifully designed classes of service – including an international-grade First Class cabin. The airline has swept the major travel awards since its 2007 launch, including being named "Best Domestic Airline" in both Conde Nast Traveler's Readers' Choice Awards and Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards for the past six years.  Virgin America's Red™ in-flight entertainment platform offers guests their own seatback touch-screen TV, with 25 films, live TV, Google Maps, videogames, a 4,000 song library and an on-demand menu, which allows flyers to order a cocktail or snack from their seatback any time during a flight.  In addition to a Main Cabin that offers custom-designed leather seating with a deeper, more comfortable pitch, the airline's First Class offers plush white leather seating with 55 inches of pitch, 165 degrees of recline and lumbar massagers. The carrier's Main Cabin Select option offers 38-inches of pitch, free food and cocktails, an all-access pass to media content, dedicated overhead bins and priority check-in/boarding. 

Photos of Virgin America's unique aircraft can be seen here.

Broadcast quality video b-roll can also be downloaded here.

About Virgin America: Headquartered in California, Virgin America, which celebrated its sixth year of operations in August 2013, offers guests attractive fares and a host of innovative features aimed at reinventing air travel. In May 2013, Virgin America was voted "Best Airline" by Consumer Reports Magazine. In April 2013, Virgin America topped the 2012 Airline Quality Rating, a joint research project conducted annually by faculty at Wichita State University and Purdue University that analyzes airline operational performance data as reported by the Department of Transportation.  The airline's base of operations is San Francisco International Airport (SFO)'s sleek and sustainable Terminal 2. Since its launch in 2007, Virgin America has created 2,700 new jobs and now flies to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Newark, Washington D.C. (IAD and DCA), Las Vegas, San Diego, Seattle, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Cabos, Cancun, Chicago, Puerto Vallarta, Palm Springs (seasonal), Philadelphia, Portland, San Jose and Austin. For more information: www.virginamerica.com

[1] Virgin America's Airbus A320 aircraft are estimated to be 15 percent quieter by noise/decibel level than the current mainline aircraft fleet primarily operating from Love Field. Noise level is measured by the relative percent increase in the area under the take-off flight path experiencing 65 decibels. Source: Virgin America and FAA Area Equivalent Method.

Virgin America logo.

Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20090123/VIRGINAMERICALOGO

SOURCE Virgin America

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