Council hammers study recommending Hobby Expansion, Chris Moran, Chron.com
City Council members grilled Houston Airport Director Mario Diaz on Monday for a study from which he concludes allowing international flights from Hobby Airport would be an economic boon for the area.The "tilted toward Southwest" argument was the same one United was floating, the same one that was shut down by citizens angry with United for one thing and another.
“I really want to just throw this proposal out the window because, right now, when I see numbers that can’t match, it just don’t work for me,” Councilman Andrew Burks said.
The study forecasts that expanding Hobby so that Southwest Airlines could begin offering international flights would add 10,000 jobs, 1.5 million annual passengers and $1.6 billion in economic impact to the Houston area.
Burks seized on assumptions underlying the report, such as a projected $133 fare to Bogota.
“You can’t even fly from Houston to Lubbock on Southwest for $133,” Burks said.
“I feel that this report is already biased, it’s already custom-made just to satisfy the demand of Southwest,” Councilman Al Hoang said.
For the rest of us, we just wanted to see what was in the report. It appears now that (at least some of) the analysis needs some work. A LOT of work actually. Think: Head back to your first assumptions and start again work. One wonders how many people have seen this report? Secondly, did any of them use it to forward their "competitiveness" argument? (I'm looking at you Steffy)
Is this a big enough snafu by HAS to torpedo the proposal? I wouldn't think so, but Diaz might want to think about procuring a second set of (non-biased) numbers post-haste, or Houston could be looking for a new Director in addition to a new long-term plan for the system.
Anybody have the number for Richard Vacar? What's his take on all of this?