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ARTICLE: Southwest to Pay for $100 Million Air Terminal in Houston


As Charles Dickens aptly said on page one of his classic, A Tale of Two Cities:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”

These words must have rung true to Houston Mayor Parker and Houston Airports System Director Diaz.

    The best of times: the critical tenant of Hobby Field, Southwest Airlines, proposed to add a major schedule from the city’s close-in airport to international flights to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

    The worst of times: the critical tenant to IAH, the international airport and once “hometown” airline United (once Continental) does not want that expansion to happen.

    The age of wisdom: the jobs to be generated by the investment in the Hobby expansion and the new WN flights would mean great economic boost to the city’s economy.

•    The age of foolishness: allowing HOB to expand will hurt UA and may cause them to reduce flights at IAH.

And almost all of Dickens’ famous introductory lines to the Tale of Two Cities are applicable to the mental and emotional lives of the Mayor and her Director of Airports systems.

The Federal Aviation Act and the statutory/contractual terms of the Grant and Assurance mandated that the airport negotiate with Southwest, according to the opinion of counsel. That legal guidance did not necessarily address all of the issues of financing the expansion, its impact on the airport system’s treasury and a myriad of other issues.

Then, Southwest stepped up and minimized, if not eliminated, all those potential legal and practical roadblocks by agreeing to pay the $100 million expected costs. Ms. Parker and Mr. Diaz appear to have done a brilliant job of managing a course between all of the political dilemmas. United’s complaint appears to have been removed by the WN capital offer.

Or once again borrowing from Dickens we were all going direct to Heaven”?

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