Virgin America wins gates at Dallas Love Field; LAX flights planned

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You will soon be able to fly Virgin America from Los Angeles to Dallas Love Field.

You might not be excited by this, especially since Virgin now flies from LAX to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. But Virgin is stoked.

With two gates at the airport, obtained from American Airlines, Virgin will be able to operate a mini focus city at Love Field, which is considerably closer to downtown Dallas than DFW. I don’t profess to know much about the Dallas market, but given the way that Southwest, Delta and Virgin fought over which carrier would receive these gates, a lot of folks seem to think Love Field is a lucrative airport.

Virgin plans to fly to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington Reagan and New York LaGuardia.

For more complete coverage, including details on the local Dallas politics impacting this choice, your best bets are the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram and the Dallas Morning News.

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Southwest Airlines to fly between Dallas Love Field and LAX

Southwest will fly to 15 new cities from Dallas Love Field starting in the fall. Photo: Southwest.

Southwest will fly to 15 new cities from Dallas Love Field starting in the fall. Photo: Southwest.

Southwest Airlines will fly between Dallas Love Field and Los Angeles International Airport starting November 2, airline officials announced Monday morning.

Los Angeles is one of 15 new cities to get new flights to Dallas Love this fall. This is possible because the so-called Wright Amendment expires in October after 35 years in effect. The federal law limited large-jet flights from Dallas Love Field to a small group of states, most of which, bordered Texas. The goal of the amendment, which became law in 1979, was to force airlines to serve the new airport in the Dallas region — Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. (Love Field is significantly closer to downtown Dallas and thus more convenient for many travelers.)

Southwest is now limited only by the fact it has 16 gates at Love Field, according to the Dallas Morning News. Otherwise it can fly anywhere in the United States it wants.

By looking at the new cities Southwest intends to serve, you can get a good idea of the carrier’s business plan. A decade ago, Southwest had relatively few flights to major city airports, preferring instead airports like L.A./Ontario, Providence, R.I. and Manchester, N.H. But that’s no longer the case. Now it’s all about big-city traffic and attracting high-fare paying business travelers.

New City
Atlanta
Baltimore
Chicago Midway
Denver
Fort Lauderdale
Las Vegas
Los Angeles
Nashville
New York LaGuardia
Orange County, Calif.
Orlando
Phoenix
San Diego
Tampa
Washington Reagan National
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Southwest statement on plane that landed at wrong airport

Now that the Southwest plane stuck at the wrong Missouri airport has safely taken off, the airline has released this statement:

“The aircraft that landed at (PLK) Taney County airport in Branson, Missouri, departed at approximately 3:00 PM CST, after a thorough inspection. The aircraft is scheduled to resume regular service later today. We continue to support the NTSB in their investigation to uncover the circumstances which led the Pilot in command of flight 4013 from Chicago Midway to land at PLK, six (6) nautical miles from the Branson Airport we serve. The Captain working the flight is a 14 year Southwest Employee and the First Officer is a 12 year Southwest Employee, having a combined tenure of 26 years with the Company. The pilots are currently on paid leave, pending the conclusion of the investigation.

We want to, again, thank responders and Branson Airport Administrators for joining in the work with our ground operations staff to immediately take care of our Customers and their baggage last night. We have since reached out to each Customer directly to apologize, refund their tickets, and provide future travel credit as a gesture of goodwill for the inconvenience.”

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Aviation jobs: A Southwest Airlines flight dispatcher explains his role

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We’re starting an occasional feature here at L.A. Airspace in which we ask airline employees about their jobs. We generally won’t profile flight attendants or pilots, but instead, we’ll focus on the people behind the scenes.

Mark Johnson (1) (619x1024)Here’s our first installment, in which we learn about flight dispatch – or the folks who, with airline captains, make your flight plans.

Mark Johnson
Southwest Airlines
Manager of Dispatch Standards

Tell me about your job. What are your duties?

My role at Southwest Airlines is to provide support to the Operations Coordination Center, including our Dispatch group. I am responsible for developing and establishing policy and procedures, while interacting and communicating with other departments inside and outside of Southwest Airlines.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

The Dispatch profession gives you the opportunity to be involved in nearly every facet of the airline. Each day brings a new challenge from managing disruptive weather to assisting network planning with future schedule development. I enjoy knowing that every time I come to the office I will be faced with a new challenge. As a Dispatcher, I feel as though I have the best job in the Company and love the work that I do.

How long have you been doing? How did you get started?

I am a licensed Dispatcher and have worked at regional, medium, and major airlines. I have been in the airline business since 1994, and I have worked in the Operational Control/Dispatch environment since 1998. As an Operations Agent for Southwest, I was exposed to the complexity that Dispatchers are exposed to on a daily basis. Those interactions inspired me to get my Dispatch license and make a career out of being a Dispatcher.

What’s the biggest misconception people have about your job?

The biggest misconception is that we work for ATC or do traffic separation. Typically we have to clarify that we represent the safety of each flight under our watch but work for the individual airline. We are a vital cog in the daily airline routine.

What skills does one need to be a flight dispatcher?

You have to be a great multi-tasker and can’t get rattled easily. As a Dispatcher you are expected to handle a multitude of situations, from the mundane to emergency situations. You have to be able to juggle those situations by prioritizing the most critical and time sensitive issues first. In addition, the Dispatch environment can be very stressful at times. So, you need patience and a good sense of humor to get through those difficult days. Every Dispatcher can recount some of their worst days on the job, but we keep coming back for more. We love our job and are some of the most passionate employees (and avgeeks!) in the business.

I believe in the United States, a dispatcher and a captain have equal control over the flight. In practice, how does that work?

This is true, the Dispatcher and Captain are equally responsible for the safe conduct of the flight. These same regulations are also in place in Canada and a few other Countries. The concept is trained at all airlines that are required to use a Dispatcher. The Dispatcher and Captain each have to sign the Dispatch Release stating that it will be conducted safely. And, if something changes where there is a chance the flight might not be operated safely (weather en route, etc.), they will take appropriate steps to get the flight safely on the ground. The concept is called “operational control.” The flight will not be conducted unless the Dispatcher AND the Captain agree that it can be conducted safely. This rule is stated in the Federal Regulations and is a required part of the business. I believe Flight Crews have come to rely on Dispatch for the vast amount of information and resources we are able to provide.

What else should we know about you or your job?

Every commercial flight operated in the United States that requires a Dispatcher has a person on the ground watching over them. We communicate constantly with flights to alert them to changing airport conditions as well as changing weather conditions. Our goal is to ensure every customer, Crew Member, or piece of cargo gets to where it is going safely and efficiently.Our livelihood is dependent on providing the highest level of safety and customer service to every flight and customer under our watch. I’m an avid aviation person (AVGEEK) and love having a job that is also my hobby.

Interested in learning more about flight dispatchers? Check out my interview from June with Lufthansa’s Marcus Pabst, as he explained to me how he plans a flight from Frankfurt to Los Angeles. 

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L.A./Ontario International Airport: Passenger traffic falls (again)

By now, most Southern California aviation aficionados know the sad story of L.A./Ontario International Airport. Traffic has fallen by more than 40 percent since 2007. The two terminals are nearly empty. The aesthetics of the place are less than stellar.

Los Angeles World Airports, which runs the airport, puts out traffic reports every month. By this point, everyone is used to falling numbers. But July seemed particularly difficult in terms of numbers.

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