The Houston airport battle continues to heat up: On Friday, the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) and the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau both publicly supported an international terminal at William P. Hobby Airport.
The proclamation from the GHP seems all but an outright endorsement of a recent $100 million proposal by Southwest Airlines to build five international gates at Hobby, which would make it the second international airport in Houston.
In a carefully-worded resolution, the GHP announced,
The Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) strongly supports an efficient and vibrant regional airport system that enables competition and yields benefits for Houston's travelers, individual airports, and our airport system, overall. Expanding international service from William P. Hobby Airport would achieve these goals, foster economic development, and help Houston achieve its goal to become a World Class City.
United Airlines, which has a stronghold on the international flights at George Bush Intercontinental (IAH), asked the GHP to oppose Southwest's controversial expansion to Hobby.
After several GHP committees reviewed the economic impact report commissioned by the Houston Airport System (HAS) and saw presentations from both airlines and Mario Diaz, HAS director, the Partnership — whose primary goal is to build regional economic prosperity — determined that dual international airports will benefit the city.
And the Houston Partnership has company in this view.
"As the official destination marketing organization for Houston and our region, the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau supports expanding international air service at William P. Hobby Airport that encourages reasonable air service pricing," the convention and visitors bureau said in its own Friday statement. "We have historically supported the expansion of Houston air service and we believe it is good for our customers and the citizens of Houston/Harris County.
"International meetings and tourism are an essential part of our core mission. The case for allowing international travel through Hobby Airport is a strong one, but that move should not significantly diminish existing international traffic at Bush Intercontinental Airport."
During a recent conversation with CultureMap, representatives from United argued the opposite — that dueling international gateways will make Houston a less desirable hub for other air carriers, rendering it inferior to other large airports like Dallas and Atlanta.
Which side of the issue do you stand on?