Dallas Still Trying to Decide Whether to Meddle With Virgin's Love Field Deal

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The exciting part of the Virgin/Southwest/Delta feud for America Airlines' two up-for-grabs gates at Love Field (i.e. Richard Branson crowd-surfing and doing tequila shots at The Rustic) is over.

Today was the excruciatingly boring part when the Dallas City Council spent a couple of hours debating who it thinks should get the gates.

Two things made today's briefing especially boring. One, most of it happened behind closed doors in executive session, which Councilman Dwaine Caraway immediately afterward described as "fruitful" while, with no apparent sense of irony, he praised City Manager A.C. Gonzalez for the transparency of the process.

Councilman Philip Kingston tried to avert the executive session by moving to have the discussion postponed indefinitely, but he was basically ignored by Mayor Mike Rawlings.

"The bright side," he quipped on Facebook, "is that I got a nice nap."

Second, the City Council doesn't -- and shouldn't -- really have a say in the matter. The two gates are currently held by American Airlines, which last month agreed to transfer them to Virgin America as part of an antitrust settlement with the federal government. Under American's agreement with the city of Dallas, it has the right to sublet the gates to whomever it pleases, provided Gonzalez gives his approval.

The Justice Department reminded Gonzalez of this, and its opinion that giving the gates to Southwest as city-hired consultants have recommended would give them 90 percent of the gates at Love Field and thus be bad for competition, in a letter on Tuesday.

Then what does the council have to talk about? Council members seemed divided over whether or not they should have a role.

Vonciel Hill suggested that, while she herself has not made up her mind, she thinks the council should have a role: "My opinion is that the city of Dallas is the landlord and that the city of Dallas as the landlord has the final call, whatever the call may be."

Kingston and Scott Griggs both said the council should stay out and that Gonzalez should approve the Virgin deal. Any attempt to meddle in negotiations is likely to wind up with the city on the losing end of a legal battle, a la flow control.

Rawlings, among others, made a special point to say that the decision is 100 percent Gonzalez's.

"I will be backing you, A.C., with whatever decision you make," he said.

Gonzlez promised to deliver an answer by Friday.

All that time spent in executive session? They must simply have been celebrating.

"We should be doing high fives!" Rawlings told his colleagues afterward. "Congratulations to the city of Dallas. We're growing, we've got hot properties, we've got Virgin Air in here wanting to do business with us, we've got Delta wanting to do business with us, we've got Southwest wanting to grow. This is great!"

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


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25 comments
casiepierce
casiepierce

Wow! SWA took to facebook and said the "truth" behind gategate, and that is that in the DFW market there are 175 gates and SWA has only 9% of the total. They are getting crucified in the comments by their own supporters!

Tipster1908
Tipster1908

It's sort of silly for the DOJ to claim that somehow getting 2 additional gates at Love will do anything to alter the dynamics of Southwest's near-monopoly status there. Someone may also want to ask the DOJ when they became experts in contract law. The city of Dallas is written into the contract. American can't sublease it without approval from the city. The definition of whether that approval is "reasonably" withheld is a matter that is outside the jurisdiction of the DOJ.

NewsDog
NewsDog

Isn't transparency always done behind closed doors?

'I didn't get a harumph out of that guy'     'Land, land, land, see snatch'

trek1red
trek1red

Since the Southwest Airlines PAC contributed to Ms. Hill's last campaign, is it ethical for her even to be discussing this issue?

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

Branson's check must have cleared. 


Richard - don't let the fancy bridge and convention center hotel fool you, when dealing with the City Council, Dallas is a third world country.  On the positive side - just be glad that the county doesn't run the airport.

PTMoore
PTMoore

If the city hadn't negotiated away its right to expand gates at Love Field we would have more competition. By limiting the number of gates they have stifled real competition that would have kept fares down at both airports. Thanks Laura Miller.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

Why, with all of this fawning attention, Rawlings must just feel like the prettiest girl at the dance!

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

If only Flow Control could throttle the geyser of guano from Gonzalez, hill, Rawlings, Atkins. ..

whocareswhatithink
whocareswhatithink

Someone should remind AC that the DOJ has a tax dept "The Tax Division’s mission is to enforce the nation’s tax laws fully, fairly, and consistently, through both criminal and civil litigation, in order to promote voluntary compliance with the tax laws, maintain public confidence in the integrity of the tax system, and promote the sound development of the law." 

AKA....I suggest you do what we say otherwise we are going to look into your personal taxes and make life hell for you. Good luck with pissing off the DOJ AC, especially for no reason

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

A.C. is the fall man, if he supports SW by trying to give them the gates, when the Feds come after Dallas the council and the Mayor can just shrug it off as it was his choice, he saw the letter the DOJ sent.  If he gives them to Virgin, the council and the Mayor can just shrug and say to Southwest, it was his choice not ours we are sorry.  


But HEY EVERYONE WANTS TO DO BUSINESS WITH DALLAS, right Mayor!

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@trek1red

Isn't that what political contributions are for? That's like saying Obama can't make pro-labor union speeches because those unions are among his biggest contributors.

hentai.jeff
hentai.jeff

@Rumpunch1 Branson dosen't own Virgin America past a 25% stake, FAA and FTC rules won't allow a foreign national to own a domestic airline.

WylieH
WylieH

@Rumpunch1 Very true... I overhead a couple of guys chatting on a flight inbound from New York, and one of the guys was prepping him for a meeting with someone from the City of Dallas.... he said something like, "just think of it like you're dealing with the government of Panama."

WylieH
WylieH

@PTMoore Laura Miller had very little understanding of the implications of the agreements she got the City into. 

James_the_P3
James_the_P3

@whocareswhatithink It's so comforting to know that the federal government's abuse of its power is just a basic assumption of life now.

DOisDUMDUM
DOisDUMDUM

@WylieH @PTMoore  "Laura Miller had very little understanding" She was a DO writer so that is to be expected

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@WylieH @PTMoore  as somone who wrote for this very paper, the 2 dailies, and D and had good knowledge of this city as well a serving on city council, how could she not understand, or was it intentional ignorance or just more of the same, "I made it better than it was when I took office"

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@tdkisok I get that it's two different worlds, but as an investigative reporter, she dug in far deeper to the inner workings than a regular columnist.  Hell Shutze knows a shit ton about city hall, even though he plays like he is ignorant

tdkisok
tdkisok

@ScottsMerkin


Because they are two different worlds, and when she became mayor she started listening to her husband. 

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