Houston's new air service to the worldHouston has had a banner few weeks when it comes to new international air service:
- Emirates started their nonstop service to Dubai, a major hub between Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. (archive link to the article - thanks Kevin and Dwight)
- Qatar Airways said they will start service to Doha in mid-2008, another hub developing along the same lines as Emirates in Dubai.
- Singapore Airlines announced nonstop service to Moscow, continuing on to Singapore. We are their fourth U.S. gateway city, after NYC, SF, and LA. It's quite surprising that we get service before Chicago, which is a major hub for their Star Alliance partner United.
- Not wanting to be left out, Continental suggested potential new destinations once they get their 787s starting in 2009: Dubai, Madrid, and either Rome or Milan. They also announced twice/daily service to London Heathrow starting in March, which is generally considered the most important airport in the world, not just for the destination itself, but for all of the the potential connections to other cities of the world.
For what it's worth, IMHO, I have to say I'm a little disappointed with the potential Continental destinations. Emirates already has Dubai and its connections along with amazing cabins and service - why not just extend the code-share? The NYT just had a feature on the decline/malaise of Italy. Even if it is a Skyteam partner with two hubs, Alitalia is imploding. A bunch of tourist traffic and few new connections that aren't already served via Amsterdam or Paris? I can see the Spanish/Latin America connections from Madrid, but it seems American Airlines at both DFW and Miami would get most of that traffic because of the OneWorld alliance with Iberia.
As far as new service, by far the best new addition we could get would be Seoul. I know there's probably not a lot of direct business (or energy traffic), but there could be a lot of Skyteam-partner Korean Air connecting traffic from inland China to all over Latin America, where they're building all sorts of commodity business relationships (China's appetite for commodities is insatiable). And it would give Houston one-hop access into many of the major cities of China. Check out their China coverage here.
My second choice would be Continental feeding eastern U.S. Skyteam traffic on a one-hopper through Auckland, NZ to Sydney, but I know that's a thinner route. Santiago, Chile would also be nice to finish out the South America network of major cities, but I imagine that's a pretty thin route too.
I'd like to wrap up with some excerpts from the Singapore Air press release, because it's just interesting to read how the international community thinks of us:
Houston – the fourth largest city in America and economic centre of the southern state of Texas (Dallas must love reading that) – will join the Singapore Airlines network from 20 March 2008, with the commencement of a four-times-weekly service.Nice. A world-class city needs world-class connections to the world, right?
“We’ve observed a steadily building demand for air services between Singapore and Houston, as well as the surrounding regions. This service will open the first direct flights between Texas and Singapore, and also between Texas and Moscow. Houston will also act as a gateway for the Southern USA to Singapore and Southeast Asia,” Mr Huang said.
Houston is the city centre of a commercial region, home to around 5.5 million people. Its industries include oil and gas, aeronautical and space, medical research and healthcare, technology, manufacturing and shipping. The region includes America’s largest shipping port by international tonnage.
The economy of the Houston region is one of America’s largest; indeed, it is larger than all but 22 nations.
Its climate is subtropical, with mild winters. Summers are warm and humid, very much like Singapore, and the city’s claim is similar to Singapore’s: everything is air-conditioned!
Among its key attractions are the Lyndon B Johnson Space Centre, featuring exhibits of lunar materials and the space shuttle program. NASA’s Mission Control Centre, from which all its space operations are controlled, is in Houston.
The Texas Medical Centre contains the world’s largest concentration of healthcare and medical research institutions. The Centre includes 13 hospitals and numerous schools of medicine, nursing and dentistry. The city also has some 55 universities, colleges and academic research institutions.
The city maintains teams that compete in all major national professional sports. Its arts and culture facilities are extensive and vibrant, building on the city’s broadly international population, featuring Hispanic, Mexican (Hmmm... Hispanic doesn't include Mexican?), Chinese, Vietnamese and Pacific Islander populations.