Published Jan 15, 2020 by Maggie Martin
Houston's William P. Hobby Airport is marking the start of the new year with a couple of big announcements.
Earlier this week, Allegiant announced it added Houston as one of a few cities it’ll begin serving in 2020. According to its press release, the new seasonal nonstop routes from Hobby Airport include Knoxville, TN, Asheville, NC, Savannah, GA, and Destin/Fort Walton Beach, FL.
Allegiant says it’s also expanding to Boston and Chicago. It’s the largest expansion in the airline’s 23-year history, driven by the company’s focus on leisure travel.
Allegiant’s announcement comes just days after Southwest Airlines unveiled a $125 million, 240,000-square-foot maintenance facility at Hobby. It’s the largest in the Dallas-based carrier’s network, and includes offices, training facilities and warehouse space.
“It’s proof of our devotion and our dedication to Houston,” Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said during the grand opening celebration, as reported by the Houston Chronicle. “And the opportunity that we see here, and the excitement that we have to continue to grow.”
Kelly told reporters that Houston is one of three key cities where Southwest is focused on adding flights over the next 10 years, according to the Houston Business Journal. Southwest’s CEO said he ultimately wants to connect Houston to South America.
“I don’t see that in the next year or so, but definitely down the road it’s something that we would be interested to do,” Kelly said.
Houston is the international air gateway to the South Central U.S. and Latin America. With the addition of international air service at Hobby Airport in ’15, Houston became the only city in Texas with two airports offering international service and one of only eight such cities nationwide.
According to Houston Facts, domestic travel at Hobby Airport increased by more than 7% to over 13 million passengers in ’18. Airlines that offer direct domestic flights from Hobby include American Airlines, Delta Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines. Southwest is currently the only airline out of Hobby offering direct international flights.
The Partnership's 2019 Economic Highlights report says the Houston Airport System (HAS) offers nonstop flights to some 190 domestic and international destinations in 37 countries. Hobby is ranked as the 35th busiest airport in the nation.