Charlotte Airport Boss: Why Would Houston Airports Battle Each Other?
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (TheStreet) -- Charlotte's outspoken airport director said adding international service at Houston Hobby Airport would not be in Houston's best interest.
If Houston enables the expansion, its airports "are competing against themselves, and that makes no sense," said Jerry Orr, longtime director of Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, in an interview. "It's not good for the people (of Houston).
"You have to do what you think is in the best interest of the people, not what some airline tells you to do," Orr said.
Houston Airport System Director Mario Diaz, who backs Hobby expansion, responded: "I would only have one comment and that would be that I agree with Jerry Orr that 'You have to do what you think is in the best interest of the people, not what some airline tells you to do.'"
Orr took a position on an issue that has divided Houston. Southwest(LUV) wants to fly from Houston Hobby Airport to Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. It has proposed building a five-gate international facility, opening in 2015. The project requires city council approval.
United Continental(UAL) opposes the expansion, which it said would lead to diminished service at its biggest hub at Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport. The two carriers have sparred over competing interpretations of the project's estimated economic impact.
Bush Intercontinental is the country's eighth busiest airport, while Charlotte Douglas is 11th. Both airports are dominated by single carriers that operate flourishing hubs with hundreds of daily departures to domestic and international destinations.
On Thursday, Houston Mayor Annise Parker announced her backing for Southwest's plan after she secured the airline's agreement to pay the $100 million cost of the expansion.