Houston City Council discusses international flights at Hobby


Houston's City Council called a special meeting Monday on the proposal to add international flights at Hobby Airport. And there was no shortage of opinions coming from both sides of this heated debate.

A room packed with employees, lobbyists, and even Southwest Airline's CEO were determined to let the City Council know how they feel about possible expansion at Hobby Airport.

"We're very excited about the opportunity to expand. Houston is a very important market to us," said Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly.

His desire to expand lines up perfectly with Houston Airport Director Mario Diaz's just-released study, which says allowing international flights at Hobby would lower fares to Latin America and add jobs. However, City Council members weren't buying the sales pitch.

"Now, you can't even fly Houston to Lubbock for $133. Did you know that? How in the world am I going to fly to Bogota for $133? You look at me in the face and give me a good answer," said City Council Member Andrew Burks.

"When there is competition, the price points of both airlines will be lower, sometimes significantly lower," Diaz said.

Others expressed concern that any additional jobs at Hobby Airport would come at the expense of those already employed at Bush Intercontinental Airport.

"I'm concerned about jobs, employees who live in my district, that work in my district, for Continental and United, and we have not addressed that," said City Council Member Jerry Davis.

Though no vote was taken Monday, the questioning put the airport director on the defense.

"This looked to me as only one-sided," said City Council Member Al Hoang.

Most council members said they felt like they were left out of the process, hence the harsh line of questioning.

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