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Chief External Affairs Officer
Houston Airport System
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As Deputy Director of the Houston Airport System (HAS), Saba Abashawl manages the External Affairs division in the areas of Global Industry & Government Relations and Corporate Communications, and leads various aviation stakeholder initiatives. She coordinates and manages a variety of efforts that collectively provide a vital support network for new and expanded air service in Houston. The arrival of these new airlines, along with the expansion of air service options from existing carriers, leads to a greater level of connectivity experienced by millions of Houstonians and helps to fuel economic growth for the entire Gulf region.
As lead liaison to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Department of Commerce on facilitation issues, she is committed to maximum levels of customer service for international passengers who enter the United States through Houston. Under her direction, leaders from the public and private sectors have come together to establish Houston as the industry standard for minimum wait times surrounding international arrivals. She has brought together multiple governmental agencies and departments in exploring new and unique approaches for maximizing efficiency, establishing George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) as a model U.S. Port of Entry and leading the nation in new enrollment for the Global Entry program. Her efforts in working with leaders from CBP and the various communities was integral in assuring the timely opening of the new international concourse at William P. Hobby Airport on Oct. 15, 2015.
Abashawl also serves as Executive Officer for the Mayor of Houston in foreign affairs and business development initiatives, designed to foster economic vitality for HAS and the greater Houston region. She organized trade missions to numerous countries in the Americas, Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia, affording many Houston businesses significant contacts and joint venture opportunities. These missions not only seek to maximize the number of nonstop flights available on Houston’s route map but also aim to present international leaders with a unified vision of Houston as a “global gateway” destination.