Saturday, March 17, 2012

International from Hobby?

It makes sense, and probably could be done, but it will be interesting to see if the plan survives United's opposition.

Plan for Hobby international flights triggers clash between airlines, Kiah Collier & Chris Moran, ChronBlog
A proposal by Southwest Airlines to offer international flights from Hobby Airport has triggered an intense lobbying duel with United Airlines, which still wields considerable local clout as the successor to Houston-based Continental.

If it gets city approval, Southwest says it would spend an estimated $75 million to $100 million to build a new international terminal equipped with full-scale Customs facilities, as well as to improve the aging airport's domestic terminals. Southwest flights would depart from the new terminal to destinations such as Cancun and the Caribbean.

But United has already broken ground on what may become another international terminal, a $700 million investment piled on top of an additional billion it has pumped into Bush Intercontinental Airport since the late 1990s.

United says this town isn't big enough for both projects.
United is most certainly wrong. Houston is plenty big enough for both projects, and they should do both of them. What's not big enough is United's hold on the market right now. Since the merger began, they've made one customer service mishap after another and are now teetering on the verge of losing considerable market share in one of their main hubs. Instead of working to solve the problem, however, their response is to attempt to limit competition. This is what's wrong with United right now, resting on their laurels they continue to think that they don't have to work as hard because they're the only big game in town.

What they really need is a second big game. I'm all in favor of Southwest becoming that second option.

Granted, I probably won't be flying much Southwest. (I'm a fairly loyal United frequent flier and they offer certain perks that Southwest does not) I'm really hoping that an increased Southwest international presence works to increase United's customer experience.

One can only hope.

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