Thursday, May 12, 2005

Houston gets an A+

Came across a random press release on an A+ bond rating for Houston's airport system, and it had a few interesting facts in it:

Intercontinental serves as the primary commercial airport for the metropolitan area. Houston-based Continental operates its largest hub at the airport and, along with its Continental Express regional affiliate, accounted for 83.2% of enplanements at Intercontinental during fiscal 2004. Reflecting the strength of the economy and Continental's increased operations at the airport, enplanements at Intercontinental increased at a 5.4% average annual rate since 1992. In calendar year 2004, Intercontinental ranked as the nation's 10th busiest airport.

Hobby, located seven miles southeast of downtown, serves as the market's secondary commercial airport and features mostly low-cost carriers providing point-to-point domestic service. Southwest, which considers Houston as one of its 'focus cities,' accounted for 85.6% of enplanements at the airport during fiscal 2004. Reflecting the capacity constraints of Hobby's older terminal facilities, enplanements at the airport increased at a 0.5% average annual rate since 1992, to 4.0 million passengers in fiscal 2004 when the airport ranked as the nation's 43rd busiest facility. The city's third airport, Ellington Field, serves general and military aviation. ...

The city is in the midst of a $3.31 billion capital program, of which $2.56 billion (77.2%) has been appropriated through March 31, 2005, with most of the related work at or near completion. The program includes extensive terminal renovations and expansions at both Intercontinental and Hobby, as well as the addition of a north parallel runway at Intercontinental. Of the remaining $750 million in projects, the airport anticipates financing approximately $250 million through external borrowing.

The system's primary market area consists of the eight-county Houston-Galveston-Brazoria consolidated metropolitan area (CMSA). The metropolitan area recorded a 2.2% annual gain in population since 1990 to an estimated 5.2 million residents as of 2003. The regional economy recorded a 6.6% annual growth rate over the past decade as measured by total personal income, outpacing the 5.1% rate for the nation. Per capita income in the metropolitan area equals 118% and 109% of the state and national averages, respectively.

Take those last stats and combine it with the lowest cost of living of any big city in America, and you have a pretty sweet deal. That spread between income and basic cost of living is money that's available for better housing (including renovating older housing), restaurants, charities, arts organizations, theater, museums, festivals, entertainment, vacations, higher education, and entrepreneurship. In other words, it's the raw fuel that drives our vibrancy, and we have more of it per capita and in total than any other major city in America. Kind of puts a different spin on "Energy Capital of the World" doesn't it?...


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