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Amid Controversy, City Council Approves New Airport Concession Contracts

Allegations include lack of transparency and personal relationships between winning bidders and city officials.

>Houston Airport System Director Mario Diaz talks to City Council
Houston Airport System Director Mario Diaz talks to City Council about the process of selecting bidders for concessions contracts.

 

The council awarded contracts for food and retail space at Hobby and Bush Intercontinental airports to six companies.

But it took 2 ½ hours to get there.

Some council members aggressively questioned Houston Airport System Director Mario Diaz on how a panel selected the bidders for the City Council to consider.

“We have no individual scoring sheets or matrix,” Council member C.O. Bradford said. “All we have is a summary, that’s all. Now you’re testifying today that there are notes. I haven’t seen notes.”

Several losing bidders had complained about the process, and there have been allegations of personal relationships between some of the winners and city officials.

Council member Dave Martin said losers are always going to protest but the council tried to get to the bottom of it.

“Was the RFP (Request for Proposal) process fair? Was it consistent? And was it applied to all parties at the same level? And at the end of the day, the conclusion that we reached was, it was fair and it was equitable,” Martin said. “That’s why we voted on that.”

The 10-year contracts are estimated to bring in about $1.5 billion for the city. They will go into effect this summer.

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Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of Real Estate Editors, and Public Radio...

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