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Houston’s Hub is Vital for Merged Airline


Houston Airport System
May 24, 2010



© Houston Airport System
Houston Mayor Annise Parker addresses questions regarding the proposed merger

In one of the biggest moves in the history of the aviation industry, United and Continental Airlines intend to combine forces to create the world’s largest airline.

“We are excited about the opportunities to grow the Houston Airport System,” said Houston Mayor Annise Parker. “We are excited to be the largest hub within the new United company and what we know for sure is that this is an opportunity for our airport system, and therefore the Houston economy, to grow rapidly as the route issues get worked out.”

Houston is expected to play a major role in new carriers’ flight schedule, as it will serve as the combined company’s largest hub.

That’s part of the reason why the Houston Airport System’s new aviation director, Mario Diaz also views the merger as a huge opportunity for Houston and George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH).

“I only see positive things for the Houston Airport System since Houston is strategically located as a hub,” said Mario Diaz, aviation director. “I do not see this as a threat, but rather I see it as an opportunity. The Houston Airport System will take advantage of the situation, and based on my experience managing airports in New York City and Atlanta, this is a good opportunity."

In 2009, Continental and United collectively handled 86.9 percent of the air travelers at Intercontinental Airport. Industry experts say there’s no reason to expect a major overhaul in regards to the new company’s flight schedule in Houston.

There is a strong possibility IAH could see growth in international traffic, especially between Houston and Latin America. The Houston Airport System recorded a 6.6 percent increase in international traffic for the first-quarter of 2010. The proposed merging airlines have little overlap within their international route system.

In June 2008, United and Continental began code sharing operations through the Star Alliance and a merger takes that synergy and cooperation to a higher level.

“I just see accelerated growth as a result of this merger,” said Diaz. “I am very, very optimistic about it.”

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