Houston, TX - After considering ample input from stakeholders and others in the community, today Council Member Brown issued the following statement announcing her intention to support the Hobby Airport terminal expansion and the construction of a Federal Inspection Service (FIS) facility to allow for international flights out of Hobby.
"It is clear the Southwest Airlines expansion is a risk-free proposal for the City of Houston and her residents and businesses and therefore it is the right thing for Houston. It is a solid opportunity for responsible economic growth and development in Houston.
"Applying free market principles yield economic prosperity, especially when government can support a project that requires no new taxes and requires no use of taxpayer funds.
"The City of Houston has a history of investing public funds in private business ventures such as sports facilities. Only recently we have the new Dynamo Stadium. The argument was that the city should invest millions of dollars in helping these private ventures so that the economy would be stimulated and jobs would be created. The City of Houston spent $15.5 million on the purchase of the land for the Dynamo stadium and another $20 million for her infrastructure needs. It was known as a risky investment but it was argued that it was worth the risk in order to help stimulate the economy and create jobs.
"Research shows that in regards to sports arenas, new facility sales would only be pulling from older facility's sales; "new business" would not be created outside of the natural growth with or without a new facility - this pulling effect is called the zero-sum-effect.
"If the zero-sum-effect is true about airport facilities then nothing would be lost. HAS' and United's job-impact numbers vary drastically. If we look at the median of those numbers, we would have 6,800 new jobs created. Nowhere close to zero. If the zero-sum-effect is not true about sports facilities, then it is certainly not true about airports and we will see a positive economic impact.
"Southwest is proposing an addition of 25 daily flights to the area around Mexico and the Caribbean. This will in no way transform Hobby into an international hub on par with or surpassing the quantity and truly global options of flights at IAH, nor will it make Hobby more of a "competing" airport than it already is today. The flights demand is high. Already 65% of all international flights to Houston are to/from Latin America, with 53% to/from Mexico alone. That is about 8,000 passengers to/from Mexico every day.
"The proposed 25 daily additional flights are not going to "pull from" or replace United Airlines flights. When low cost carrier flights have been added at other airports the result was the stimulation of passenger traffic for the other carriers. IAH will maintain its status as a premier international hub with world-wide flights to London, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Dubai, and Doha, etc. IAH could only be positively impacted by this expansion.
"City Attorney Feldman advices that because of our Federal Grant agreements, Council must not make economic impact a deciding factor in this decision making process. He has counseled that Council must "negotiate in good faith to reach agreement (if it can) to provide reasonable accommodation for international services at Hobby."
"This proposal will not be a burden to the taxpayers. Southwest Airlines is willing to foot the bill or secure the bonds. Either way, Southwest Airlines has offered to take the risk, so this is a risk-free proposal for the City of Houston.
"If Southwest Airlines is given this opportunity, the result is clear: initially new construction jobs for this $100 million project and the spending of those paychecks in the Houston area resulting in increased sales tax revenue for the City; then the addition of at least 50 new flight service jobs; increased ticket sales, travelers to Houston, taxi business, hotel stays, residents moving to Houston, home purchases, home building, property tax revenue, sales tax revenue, business investments and developments, jobs, tax revenue, projects, business investments and developments, jobs, tax revenue, etc.!
"This is a smart thing to do for our constituents and our city! Freedom equals prosperity. America works!"