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Yesterday, news broke that a press conference to take place at Hobby Airport was scheduled by Mayor Annise Parker. It was pretty easy to speculate what it would be about, the future of Hobby Airport and Southwest Airlines’ desire to fly international flights from there. It came as no surprise that the press conference was the confirmation of the speculation, that Hobby would have an international terminal and immigration facility built. What did come as a surprise were a few of the details.

  • Southwest Airlines will pay for the entire cost of construction
  • No passenger service charges will be added to tickets due to construction
  • For Southwest’s part in building of the terminal, they will receive preference on four out of the five gates being built
  • Southwest will pay no rent on the terminal or the customs and immigration facilities
  • Rebates will be made available for other carriers who start operations at Hobby and bring an increase in passengers
  • The City of Houston will be the owners of the terminal after construction

A piece that was kind of mentioned in passing was Southwest’s lease term. It sounded like a 25-year lease but I am not 100% on that.

All around, I’m sort of ambivalent. It is good news that the city is not footing the bill, it shows that Southwest is serious about the international operations. However, I do think the full ramifications of more traffic out of Hobby are not completely understood. None of the studies done looked at car traffic, parking, etc. These are important items for the community and I hope they are addressed before construction is underway.

The other piece is United’s threats of moving flights and how serious they are about following through on them. We may see a few flights announced from other hubs but I have no doubt that United is going to want to compete in the Houston market.

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  1. May 23, 2012

    Not for nothing, but it already appears that the first 787 flight will by DEN-NRT instead of IAH-AKL.

    • Stephan Segraves #
      May 23, 2012

      I do not think that is completely clear yet. United is supposed to have a few 787s this year and I doubt that after check-out flights and a few domestic routes they are going to let them sit idle at IAH. My guess is that we will see Houston-Lagos switched to the 787. The Lagos flight times perfectly with the Denver-Tokyo route so that United can do IAH-LOS-IAH-DEN-NRT-DEN-IAH-…

      Now, if the 787 is delayed anymore, then I see them starting with DEN-NRT.

  2. May 23, 2012

    Agreed, not completely clear. But very interesting the timing of what United is doing. I think it lends credence to your theory that DEN could be the big beneficiary of the HOU expansion.

    • Stephan Segraves #
      May 23, 2012

      Very true. Don’t forget that DEN offered United a pretty sweet deal if they brought more traffic to the airport. That, plus needing to get their Transpac numbers up, plus this Hobby decision all played a role in the announcement of the route.

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