Mayor Annise Parker today released a new report that bolsters previous predictions that the addition of international service at Hobby Airport (HOU) by Southwest Airlines (SWA) will have a positive economic impact. Transportation and aviation experts, Drs. Carol Abel Lewis and Charles R. Glass of Texas Southern University (TSU) reviewed the independent economic impact studies commissioned by the Houston Airport System (HAS) as well as the opposing report prepared by United Airlines. It is their conclusion that the preponderance of the available evidence of impact on jobs, airfares and passenger volumes supports the recommendation to allow SWA to proceed with its proposal.
“While we believe the independent study the City commissioned was solidly based and built on other studies done around the United States and worldwide, I concluded that it would be helpful to this process to have a peer review of our own independent study and the ones presented by United and Southwest,” said Mayor Parker. “This peer review was done totally independent of the airlines involved and used the material provided by our own studies and the material provided by the Airlines.”
The review by Drs. Lewis and Glass shows the following:
- Federal regulations mandate SWA’s request be granted, if resources exist.
- Existing fares for some Houston routes seem high compared to other locations.
- The projections and estimates of passengers in the HAS study are defensible.
- Positive job growth is achieved even when allowing for possible overestimation in the original HAS report.
- The SWA request should not be unexpected for Houston area airlines because it has been in the HOU master plan since 2003.
- It is reasonable to expect increased demand and lower prices from international service at HOU.
Dr. Lewis is an Associate Professor of Transportation Studies and Director for the Center for Transportation Training and Research at TSU. She is responsible for educating students in fundamentals of transportation and urban transportation issues, as well as conducting operational and policy related transportation research. She served as transportation advisor to former Mayor Bill White and as a former chair of the City’s Planning Commission and former appointee to the METRO Board of Directors.
Dr. Glass is Assistant Professor in Aviation Science and Technology at TSU. In this capacity, he is responsible for educating students in a variety of courses including Airport Management, Introduction to Aviation, Principals of Aviation Property and Flight Safety.
Mayor Parker is sending to City Council next week a proposed Memorandum of Agreement under which SWA will cover all costs related to the $100 million expansion of HOU to accommodate international service.