The merger between United and Continental airlines never had many fans in Houston, and now a new critic with some clout has taken to Twitter.
Houston mayor Annise Parker tweeted her frustration just after midnight on March 17 after what she describes as an eight-hour delay on her return to Houston from San Francisco.
Just landed from spring break trip with girls. 1.5 hours late leaving Houston and 8 hours late coming back from SF. Great merger, United!-a"
United might have picked a particularly bad time to mess with the mayor's spring break. City officials are currently considering a proposal by Southwest Airlines to spend up to $100 million for a new international terminal at Hobby Airport, a significant addition that will make Hobby the city's second international hub. Southwest says it plans flights to destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean from the proposed terminal.
United is lobbying against the Hobby expansion, arguing in a letter to Parker that it will dilute international traffic at Bush Intercontinental Airport, where it is planning to spend $700 million on another terminal that broke ground at the beginning of 2011. "Splitting international service between the two Houston airports would severely devalue that investment," the letter said.
The city will receive two consultants' reports on the costs and benefits of Hobby expanding to international status next week, according to the Houston Chronicle, and city council could vote on the terminal as early as May 9.
Of course, no one is really suggesting that Parker is going to make a high-stakes decision about Houston's travel system based on a couple of flight delays. But if I was United, and she was on the manifest, I'd do what I could to be on-time.