More fallout from Hobby expansion announcement

May 31, 2012 4:26:44 PM PDT
Just one day after Houston City Council members approved the controversial expansion of Hobby Airport, there are more rumblings that United Airlines could start to cut ties with Houston, years before international travel at Hobby takes flight.

As someone who flies both Southwest and United, Neil Aussenberg says he was surprised by United's reaction to city council's vote on Wednesday.

"United was acting like a little child when they said they're going to lay off people. They had it all prepared so that when they voted it in, they immediately said they're going to lay off people and I think was really childish," said Aussenberg.

But even as United says it's reducing flights in just a few months, Mayor Annise Parker wasn't buying the argument.

"They committed early on we would be the largest hub for the largest airline in the world, and that's the commitment I expect them to keep," Mayor Parker said.

When we asked the mayor if she thought United was bluffing, she replied, "You'd have to ask United."

United Airlines points to their study which shows in a typical flight to South America that only 1.5 of the seats are actually profitable, and even potential loss of flights will have immediate repercussions. Airline expert Darren Bush says while layoffs are possible, the cause may be more complicated.

"The economic conditions might call for those reductions anyway. Pointing out these jobs are specifically related to something that might, might happen with Southwest at Hobby in three years is a bit of a stretch," said Bush.

He says the real impact of Southwest flying out of Hobby won't be as bad as United predicted. But it won't be as good as Southwest touts. Competition may lower fares, but if fuel costs are too high, neither airline will make any money.

"You can assume things about fuel costs, or passenger demand, but it's really hard to predict what's going to happen three or four years out," Bush said.

Stay with Eyewitness News for the latest on this story.

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