Transportation

Houston’s Airport Director Expects Continued Growth, More International Passengers

Despite downturns in the oil and gas industry, Houston Airport officials still expect lots of business in 2016. They’re hoping new international routes will keep the momentum going.

Houston Airport System Director Mario Diaz gives the annual State of the Airports Address before the Greater Houston Partnership.
Houston Airport System Director Mario Diaz gives the annual State of the Airports Address before the Greater Houston Partnership.

In his speech before the Greater Houston Partnership, Houston Airport System Director Mario Diaz says business remains strong, with 55 million people flying through the city’s airports in 2015 on both international and domestic flights.  

Diaz says a lot of the growth happened at Hobby Airport, where they opened a new terminal to accommodate Southwest Airlines’ flights to Latin America and the Caribbean.

“The economic study we commissioned estimates that more than 10,000 jobs would be created in the local economy as a result of international air service coming to Hobby,” says Diaz. “And the economic impact is expected to be more than $1.5 billion.”

At Bush Intercontinental, Diaz says they’re now looking toward the next wave in global travel, and that’s more flights to Africa. He thinks recent oil and gas discoveries off the African coast could mean more business travelers.

“Last year we started discussions with at least two airlines in Africa,” explains Diaz. “One would crisscross the African continent from east-to-west and fly on to Houston. The other would crisscross the continent from south-to-north and continue on to Houston.”     

At Ellington Airport, Diaz says they’re continuing to lure tenants for the new Houston Spaceport. Officials say Ellington should be able to handle horizontal spacecraft launches by the year 2020.

http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2773339-2016-State-of-the-Airports-Speech-Text.html

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Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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