Southwest Pushes for International Gates at Houston Airport
Southwest Airlines is ramping up efforts to win approval for a five-gate addition to William P. Hobby Airport in Houston that would allow the airline to offer international flights starting in 2015. This week Southwest launched a website, freehobbyairport.com, designed to muster public support for the proposal. The site includes an economic impact study, maintaining that the expansion would generate $1.6 billion annually and create more than 10,000 jobs in the Houston area, and links for Houston residents to email city council members and the mayor.
Dallas-based Southwest would spend about $100 million on upgrades and a customs facility at Hobby Airport, which is one of the airline’s major bases of operation. By expanding beyond its current domestic offerings and flying to destinations in Central and South America and the Caribbean, Southwest is taking on the dominance of United Airlines, which operates out of the larger George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. United has been lobbying heavily against the proposal, saying the move would create more international flights than the market can bear and result in shrinking service. The new website calls out the Chicago-based carrier by name, accusing United of trying to “maintain a stranglehold on the international air service from Houston.” Houston’s airport authority will present its take on the issue to the city council on Monday. airlinenewsresource.com