Alaska Airlines officials said last week they had no intention of giving up Virgin America’s gates at Dallas’ close-in Love Field – even though Alaska already flies to Dallas/Ft. Worth International – and this week they explained why: They are planning a significant expansion of service at Love.
The company said it plans to add four new West Coast routes out of Love starting later this summer and into next year, and to keep most of the DAL routes that Virgin already has, although with some changes of aircraft.
On August 27, Alaska will begin twice-daily flights between Seattle and DAL, using a Virgin A320 for one of them and an E175 for the second. The airline will also use three-class E175s for the other new routes, including daily service from Portland to DAL starting August 28, along with San Diego-DAL and San Jose-DAL, both starting February 16.
Southwest, the dominant airline at Love Field, also dominates all four of those routes, with multiple daily flights in each market; and American does the same from DFW. Alaska currently flies to Seattle and Portland from DFW, and will continue to do so.
Alaska and Virgin America also plan on “streamlining the airlines’ route network at Love Field” with aircraft changes. This summer, the company will start replacing Virgin America mainline jets with E175s out of Love Field. The changeover is set for August 27 for the three daily DAL-New York LaGuardia flights, with a fourth frequency added October 28. On February 18, two daily DAL-Washington Reagan National flights will make the switch from mainline to E175s, with the third one doing the same March 11.
One additional tweak to Alaska/Virgin’s Love Field schedule: Service to Las Vegas will be dropped August 26. The company will continue operating Virgin’s current schedule of three daily flights from DAL to both San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Switching to E175s frees up mainline Virgin aircraft from Love Field to fly Alaska’s previously announced new routes from San Francisco to Philadelphia, New Orleans, Nashville, Indianapolis Raleigh-Durham and Kona, and new LAX-Philadelphia flights.
“Prior to merger, Virgin America lacked a regional aircraft to take advantage of mid-sized routes. The fuel-efficient E175 jet has the same amenities and features of a mainline jet and is perfectly suited for Love Field,” said John Kirby, Alaska’s vp-capacity planning.
Virgin America moved its Dallas flights from DFW to Love Field in 2014 after regulatory changes opened up the close-in airport to more long-distance flights beyond the states bordering Texas.