VIRGIN AMERICA'S 'FREE LOVE FIELD' CAMPAIGN TAKES OFF
Airline Rallies Support For Free Market Competition, Low Fares and More Choice for Dallas Consumers
Dallas – May 5, 2014 – Virgin America, the low-fare, upscale U.S.-based airline continues to rally Dallas supporters with its "Free Love Field" campaign to bring "fare" competition to an airport where one airline currently controls 90 percent of the traffic and 80 percent of the gates. Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) approved Virgin America's request to fly to five cities from just two of the 20 total gates at Dallas' Love Field (DAL), but opponents are trying to block that move. Through a new website www.freelovefield.com, Virgin America is encouraging travelers to voice their support for free market competition, low fares and more choice at the airport closest to Dallas' downtown. In just a few days, the website has garnered more than 20,000 signatures. Tonight, the airline is thanking its local supporters at a #LovetoFlyVirgin shindig with Virgin America President and CEO David Cush and Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson — along with community leaders, teammates, the airline's Dallas-based Elevate members and members of the public invited via the airline's social media channels.
"Don't mess with Dallas travelers: they are smart and know that allowing one airline to have an even more concentrated monopoly over the airport closest to downtown cannot be a good thing for consumers," said Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson. "Dallas is a world-class city and a major center of industry; it deserves fare competition and better service. The 20,000+ consumers who have signed our Free Love Field petition to date agree there is more than enough 'Love' to go around."
At no other comparably sized airport in the U.S. has one carrier been allowed to control 90 percent of the seats. The impact of that airline's Love Field monopoly is already in effect: an August 2013 study conducted by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers found that of airports in its size class, Love Field had the largest increase in average fares from 2007-2012 — a 37 percent jump.1 In addition to offering fare competition, Virgin America will be the only carrier at Love Field to offer three classes of service (including a First Class cabin) as well as WiFi, in-seat power outlets, confirmed seating and touch-screen seatback entertainment on every flight.
"A recent opinion piece in The Dallas Morning News on Love Field noted that 'competition requires competitors,' and we couldn't agree more — and so do many people in Dallas. We've received an outpouring of support from local flyers since this process began — and wanted to thank them," said Virgin America President and CEO David Cush. "We are hopeful from our conversations that the City will make the right decision and that the free market and the interests of consumers will prevail. We look forward to growing our presence in Dallas, giving back to this community, and bringing local flyers more competition and a different product choice."
Last month, Virgin America was selected by the DOJ for the award of two Love Field gates being divested as part of the American Airlines/US Airways merger in order to ensure competition in a market that has become increasingly dominated by massive airlines. Southwest agreed under the Wright Amendment and the Five Party Agreement to be limited to 16 of 20 gates at Love Field. Under the same rulings, the City approved the lease of two gates to American Airlines at Love Field. That agreement allows American to sublease the gates, and American has already twice before subleased: once to Delta in July 2009 and once to Seaport Airlines in 2011, both of which the City Manager approved without going before the Dallas City Council. As a result, and in order to begin selling flights in time for travelers to plan trips, Virgin America launched sales on new flights from Love Field to New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco and Los Angeles on April 25. To celebrate its Dallas growth, Virgin America pledged $20 per Love Field booking that day to KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) Dallas-Fort Worth college preparatory public charter schools. The airline received an overwhelming response to its first day of Love Field sales — exceeding its fundraising goal and raising $55,000 to support KIPP college trips for middle school students. Virgin America has been a long-time partner of KIPP schools in markets throughout the country.
Virgin America's service is tailored to the modern business traveler, making it a perfect fit for Dallas-based and Dallas-destined travelers flying from Love Field's central location. The airline has been named the "Best Domestic Airline" in Condé Nast Traveler's Readers' Choice Awards and Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards for the past six consecutive years. In April, the airline was ranked as the top U.S. carrier in the Airline Quality Rating, an annual study measuring on-time rates, guest satisfaction and other key metrics conducted by Wichita State and Embry-Riddle University. The airline's new fleet is about 15 percent quieter by noise/decibel level than the current mainline aircraft fleet primarily operating from DAL.2
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EDITORS NOTE: Virgin America is a U.S.-controlled, owned and operated airline. It is an entirely separate company from Virgin Atlantic. Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group is a minority share investor in Virgin America.
About Virgin America: Headquartered in California and known for its mood-lit cabins, three beautifully designed classes of service and innovative fleetwide amenities — like touch-screen personal entertainment, WiFi and power outlets at every seat, Virgin America has built a loyal following of flyers and earned a host of awards since launching in 2007. For more: www.virginamerica.com
1 Michael D. Wittman and William S. Swelbar. "Evolving Trends of U.S. Domestic Airfares: The Impacts of Competition, Consolidation, and Low-Cost Carriers." Small Community Air Service White Paper No. 3, Report No. ICAT-2013-07. (August 2013): Page 9. Dept. of Aeronautics & Astronautics, Mass. Institute of Technology.
2 Noise level measured by relative percent increase in area under take-off flight path experiencing 65 decibels. Source: Virgin America & FAA Area Equivalent Method.