Pending international flights might bring $1.6 billion to city
Houston Director of Aviation Mario Diaz has recommended to Mayor Annise Parker that the City of Houston work with Southwest Airlines to expand the federal inspection services at William P. Hobby Airport in supporting scheduled commercial international service.
"I have concluded, given Southwest's existing and sizeable domestic network operation at Hobby, it would not be reasonable to require the airline to relocate to Bush Intercontinental Airport or even conduct split operations -- domestic service at Hobby and international service at Intercontinental," Diaz said. "Therefore, it's my recommendation we support Southwest's request to begin the process of obtaining the necessary approvals to initiate international service at Hobby."
Two independent studies were conducted to evaluate the economic impact on the city from Southwest's international flights. The studies were conducted by two experts in the aviation industry and found that international service at HOU would generate an additional 1.5 million passengers to, from and through Houston per year. The increase would create more than 10,000 jobs and an annual economic impact of more than $1.6 billion.
The studies also found that the increased competition will result in an expanded market for all airlines servicing Houston. A comparison was drawn to other metropolitan areas with more than one international airport, such as New York/New Jersey, Chicago and Washington, D.C., where low-cost carriers such as Southwest helped spur competition.
"By adding new international air service at Hobby, it creates competition in the Houston-Latin America market, leading to lower airfares and more travel options for the public," concluded Diaz.
The study is under review by the mayor's office, which is seeking input from stakeholders before making a decision about the recommendation. In a press release, Mayor Parker indicated that a decision is expected by the end of April and that the international flights are a federal decision.
To learn more, go to www.fly2houston.com/hobbyinternational.
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