Over the next several months, Virgin America and Alaska Airlines will culminate the final stages of their merger activities. We have learned that Alaska Airlines, which will be the surviving carrier after the merger, has decided to keep Virgin’s Dallas Love Field focus city open after the merger concludes, and this means that various stations served from DAL are being transitioned to Alaska’s operations.
It is important to note that Virgin America and Alaska both serve Dallas Love Field airport, but only Alaska Airlines serves Dallas/Ft. Worth airport. Virgin America started service to North Texas in 2011 but originally came to DFW airport. It moved to Dallas Love in 2014 after it won rights to two gates leased by United Airlines, and started service to New York LaGuardia and Washington National, in addition to the service to LAX and SFO that it was already flying from DFW.
When Alaska bought Virgin in 2016, they announced that they would keep the DFW gates, but would tweak the fleet and network from the Dallas Love, “focus city” in order to broaden the array of markets served and right-size seat capacity. Dallas/Ft. Worth International receives mainline service on Alaska Airlines metal to Portland (1x daily) and Seattle (2x daily in the winter, 3x in the summer) on 737-900ER Boeing Business Jets and 737-800 Next Generation planes. These planes offer anywhere between 159 to 178 seats, with 12 seats in First Class on the 737-800, 16 on the 737-900ER, and 147-162 in Economy.
Conversely, all of Alaska’s flights at Dallas Love Field are operated by Alaska’s regional partner SkyWest Airlines, which flies Embraer E-175s into Dallas Love. These planes offer 76 seats in total, with 12 in First Class and 64 in Economy Class. Alaska flies anywhere between 5 and 6 daily flights to Dallas Love. Four of them fly to New York LaGuardia each day (3 on off-peak days) and one a day to both Portland and Seattle.
Currently, Virgin flies from Dallas Love to Los Angeles, Washington National, and San Francisco, with 2 daily flights each on off-peak days and 3 daily flights each on peak days. It also offers a daily flight to Seattle. So on any given day, Dallas Love receives either 7 or 10 daily Virgin flights. Virgin flies both Airbus A319s and Airbus A320s into Dallas Love, with either 146 seats or 119 total seats. Both aircraft types only offer 8 total First Class seats.
Things will start to change in mid-February. Starting February 16, 2018, Alaska/SkyWest will add one daily flight each to San Diego and San Jose, CA from Dallas Love. The following month, Virgin America’s DAL ops will slowly start to wind down. Virgin’s mainline service to Washington National and Seattle will transition to SkyWest on March 9 and 10th, respectively, while LAX and SFO will become Alaska flights on April 25, 2018.
However, the LAX and SFO routes will be operated on Airbus A320s, which is obviously pre-merger Virgin America’s aircraft. The reason why they will become, “Alaska” flights is due to the combination of a Single Operating Certificate by Alaska and Virgin, as well as the passenger services system (PSS) migration/cutover that is expected to take place between the two carriers sometime in late April.
Meanwhile, Alaska will continue to operate its Boeing aircraft out of DFW.
One last thing worth noting is that the combined carrier will not offer any codeshare routes out of Dallas Love Field, nor out of Dallas/Ft. Worth on Alaska Airlines metal, due to the decree by the U.S. Department of Justice to inhibit codesharing on certain overlapping routes between Alaska and American Airlines. American will still carry Alaska’s code on the following markets:
Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz.