On Friday, Virgin America announced that it would begin sales on its new business-focused flights from Dallas' Love Field (the airport closest to the city's central business district) to New York's LaGuardia Airport (LGA), Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
In a statement, Virgin America President and CEO David Cush said that in response to the creation of four "mega-airlines," the Justice Department has taken steps "to ensure that consumers are protected from this unprecedented consolidation by allowing room for low-fare competition in key markets that are increasingly dominated by massive carriers." As such, he said, "more competition for Dallas flyers — and at an airport that is now monopoly-controlled — will bring fare discipline and product choice to local travelers."
In a statement, Virgin America's team said that its flights from DAL will bring needed fare and product competition to the market. At present, Southwest Airlines controls 80 percent of the Love Field gates (16 of 20) and more than 90 percent of the traffic. An August 2013 study conducted by MIT researchers found that of airports in its size class, DAL had the largest increase in average fares from 2007-2012 — a 37 percent jump.
Virgin America has already seen fares drop upon entering new markets: When the airline entered the SFO-Dallas market in 2010 and the SFO-Chicago O'Hare (ORD) market in 2011, fares dropped in each market at the time by more than 30 percent. Prior to the launch of Virgin America's new service from SFO and LAX to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) in 2013, the EWR routes had some of the highest fares in the nation. After Virgin America entered EWR, fares dropped by more than one-third.
The addition of Love Field will expand Virgin America's presence in Texas. SFO, LAX and DCA to DAL flight service starts on October 13, 2014, and LGA to DAL flight service starts on October 28, 2014. The carrier's initial Love Field nonstop flight schedule is as below:
In 2015, Virgin America plans to add an additional daily flight from DAL to SFO, LAX and DCA, bringing each route to four daily nonstop flights. In addition, the airline plans to add two new daily nonstop flights from DAL to Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) in 2015. Virgin America will move its current operations from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) to DAL in October 2014.
The new routes will also expand Virgin America's footprint in Washington D.C. and New York. In the last six months, the airline invested in assets being sold as part of the American Airlines merger settlement, including airport slots at LGA and DCA. Virgin America will be only the second low-cost airline to serve all three major New York-area airports.
The new flights take off in October with tickets on sale at virginamerica.com.