UPDATE Monday, May 12: Virgin America gets the Love Field gates. Unclear why it took the Dallas City Manager so long to make it official.
May 5: Late last month, Virgin America apparently thought it secured two gates at Dallas’ Love Field, the long-time headquarters of Southwest. Then suddenly the Dallas City Council said, not so fast! We haven’t made up our minds yet.
Richard Branson to the Rescue?
By that time, however, Virgin America was already selling tickets for flights at the downtown-close Dallas airport so the carrier decided to bring in some big guns to help persuade the councilors to “Free Love Field.” Biggest Virgin gun of all? Sir Richard Branson.
Virgin empire founder Branson, still considered the rock star of airline executives, will presumably attempt to work his charm on the powers-that-be in Dallas during appearances and meetings in the Texas city this week.
UPDATE – May 6: In the brief video clip below, see Richard Branson play to the media with a little crowd-surfing at Monday night’s gathering in Dallas. Note: Turn you sound down.
Sir Richard crowd surfing! Epic!!!! #lovetoflyvirgin
Social Media Persuasion and Petitions
Meanwhile, Virgin America is waging a vigorous social media campaign centered on the issue of fair competition, tweeting that if an unnamed airline (Southwest) gets the gates Virgin wants it will result in a “stranglehold” on Love Field and you can see it below. The airline is also circulating a petition at Change.org that says, “Today, a single airline controls 90% of the traffic, 80% of the gates, and now they want more.” As of Monday morning (May 5), the petition was just shy of its goal to sign up 20,000 supporters. UPDATE: Within minutes of publishing this article, support for the petition easily topped the 20,000 mark.
FareCompare has contacted Southwest about Virgin America’s latest moves and will update with any response.