Learning from FLL vs. MIA for SWA/HOU vs. UA/IAH, TSA waste, top rankings, 290 plans, education, and moreAs you've probably heard, the Houston airports director came out this week in favor of Southwest's international expansion after outside studies (report) showed overwhelming benefits (yeah! score one for logic and economics over corruption and bought-off politicians). There was also an update from Kuff's expert wife, concluding:
I find the Customs and Border Protection argument disingenuous, given the pressures already in the customs hall and the growth projections that are already part of the IAH Master Plan and the fleet growth plan of United, insofar as I can guess what it is from the Boeing order book.But here's the smoking gun that just devastates United's argument: Ft. Lauderdale (in the Miami metro) has vastly expanded discount international flying with airlines like Spirit and JetBlue, among others, yet over the last six years American has doubled the number of departures from its Latin America hub at Miami (source).
It’s the customers who have the most to gain from a Hobby expansion gateway. And as a customer, I’ll bet on Southwest working in my interest before I’ll bet on the “new” United.
Definitely a lesson for Houston here. United’s threats to cut service are a smokescreen. Profits may drop, but service will only increase and fares will drop for the citizens of Houston.
Show your support. Please consider signing Southwest's online petition: Free Hobby!
UPDATE: Noted aviation blogger Cranky Flier weighs in on the debate:
"United says it will hurt its traffic, and that could result in the city losing service. It also says that this will take away customs and immigration resources from Intercontinental, making for a worse experience for travelers there. Oh please.
These are always the arguments used to fight competition. American used even more ridiculous ones in the Love Field fight, so this shouldn’t be surprising. And it isn’t.
Really, if you’re United, wouldn’t you fight this? I mean, you certainly don’t want more competition, so you should put some effort into trying to keep it out. But in this case, it should be a losing battle. Hobby should get a customs facility, and I imagine that’s what we’re going to see happen."Moving on to some smaller misc items:
- U-Haul names Houston the #1 destination in the country for the 3rd year in a row.
- Despite our reputation for low density sprawl, Houston's density 27% above the average urban density.
- Aaron Renn (The Urbanophile) has an interesting post over at New Geography about the reordering of the urban hierarchy, with NYC and DC winning big while LA, Chicago, and Boston slip. But even more interesting is that, unprompted, Houston comes up many times in the comments here, mostly in a positive way. Check 'em out.
- A couple of interesting items from The Atlantic. Houston a consistent top 20 metro in the country, along with Dallas and Austin (hat tip to John). And from this story on the most and least dynamic cities (hat tip to Matt):
"In the full list of the richest and poorest metropolitan economies, only Houston finished in the top 20 among both the richest and the fastest-growing metros. That's a remarkable accomplishment for the Texas energy hub"
- If you're interested in the ongoing expansion plans for the 290 corridor (including the Hempstead toll road), check out this comprehensive video by HGAC. Some good visualizations make it easier to understand all the improvements. They also discuss the financial crunch that TXDoT is facing with the gas tax not being adjusted for inflation. They only have funds to fix bottlenecks at 610 and Beltway 8, but they need a lot more to implement the plan throughout the entire corridor, which is one of the most congested in the city and the state. Now it looks like the plan might be shifting somewhat (Chronicle story), with toll lanes in the center of 290 instead of the Hempstead corridor. This is probably not a bad intermediate term plan, as long as those lanes could be converted to free lanes down the road when the Hempstead tollway becomes more viable.
The video can't be embedded (as far as I can figure out), so to watch it, go here, click on episode 189, and then zoom ahead about 31 minutes in. The segment is about 12 minutes.
One last note: apologies for the unpredictable blog posting schedule the last few weeks - crazy schedule, hoping to be back to a regular night soon (probably Sunday or Monday evenings).