Hobby International Airport - A Reality in 2015
City approves Southwest's proposal to build an international facility at HOU
May 30, 2012
It’s an exciting time for the Houston Airport System. Houston City Council approved a deal to have Southwest Airlines build a $100 million international facility at William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) and begin operating flights to Mexico and the Caribbean in 2015.
“This is a big win for Houston and the traveling public,” said Mayor Parker. “Competition will lead to jobs, lower fares and a positive economic impact for the city. My goal is a strong international presence at Hobby and a continued strong international presence at Bush Airport. We will also continue our commitment to ensuring there is adequate customs and immigration staffing at Bush and at Hobby when international service begins there in 2015.”
The agreement requires Southwest Airlines (WN) to design and build five new gates and customs facility to the City’s specifications. When finished, the City will own the improvements debt free. In return for its investment, Southwest will have preferential scheduling rights and pay no rent for its use of four of the five new international gates, and will also pay no rent for its use of the customs facility. The fifth additional gate and the customs facility will be available for use by all other airlines operating at Hobby, but unlike WN, the other airlines will pay rent.
The addition of international service at Hobby will mean approximately 12 more departures daily, which is still far below the historical record-setting activity levels of 1997. Southwest intends to utilize new 737 aircraft that are more efficient and quieter than older models, thus eliminating impact on the surrounding neighborhood.
As an additional incentive for airlines who agree to a long-term lease at Hobby, the agreement allows a rebate of airport revenues for every additional passenger they bring to the airport above the base passenger levels in the year price to the start of international service, with a cap of $3.9 million annually. This is based solely on an anticipated increase in concession sales inside the airport from additional passenger growth. The rebate is not automatic; if there is not increase in number of passengers through the airport, there are no payments.
Construction is planned for the spring of 2013. In the interim, the City will work closely with Southwest Airlines and Washington to obtain the necessary federal approvals as well as a commitment for an adequate number of customs and border patrol agents at both of our airports.
To see clips from the City Council vote and comments on May 30, 2012, visit our You Tube channel at YouTube.com/HoustonAirports.
For more information on the efforts to launch international service at Hobby Airport, visit www.fly2houston.com/HobbyInternational or follow us on Twitter @HobbyAirport.