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The Department of Justice decided to award two gates at Dallas Love Field to Virgin America for competition's sake, but now the City of Dallas, which owns the gates, will try to head it all off in favor of hometown airline, Southwest.

An aviation consultant says Southwest Airlines is the best carrier to use two gates at Dallas Love Field that are being divested by American Airlines.

L.E.K. Consulting was to present its findings at a Dallas City Council transportation committee hearing today.

“Southwest is the most attractive option for the City of Dallas, given both expectations for its [origin and destination passengers] throughput and potential for low fares,” the report said.

Virgin America and Delta Air Lines are also interested in the gates that American is required to divest as part of its merger settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

On Friday, Virgin America announced it had an agreement with American to take over the lease of those gates and began selling tickets on flights to five cities out of Love Field. The agreement, Virgin America said, is pending approval by the city of Dallas.

“While both Southwest and Virgin would serve substantial passengers, Virgin would be removing flights from DFW,” the report said.

Virgin America currently serves two cities out of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport and has said it intends to transfer its service from DFW to Love Field. It refuted the study’s findings, saying that allowing Southwest to have a monopoly at Love Field is not good for consumers.

“We respect the City’s process and are confident they will quickly support our entry into Love Field given both the significant positive impact that our flights will have on fares and traffic stimulation and the clear legal precedent that has been established with these transfers in the past,” said Virgin America chief executive David Cush in a statement on Monday.

Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631 Twitter: @Sky_Talk ___

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Tags: love field, southwest airlines, virgin america

Photo Credit: Southwest planes at Dallas Love Field, where restrictions on service will be lifted in October 2014. Joyce Marshall / Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT