Will American Airlines Start Offering International Service from Houston Hobby Airport?

At the June 17 Houston City Council meeting, a five year renewaable lease with American Airlines was approved that gives it access to a shared international gate at Houston Hobby airport.

The $1.7 million agreement provides for 5128 square feet of ticket counter, operations and administrative space, baggage service office, and gate holdroom space. It also provides access to shared terminal space and includes landing fees.

Southwest Airlines built a 5 gate international concourse at Hobby, and gets to keep four of those gates. One gate is for other airlines to share in international service.

And American gets access to that gate and use of the Federal Inspection Service facility.

I’m not suggesting that American is going to start flying internationally from Hobby. They squatted on gates at Love Field for a long time that they didn’t really want to operate, until the Justice Department forced them to give up the gates to Virgin America as part of approval for the US Airways merger (and set off a chain reaction that could wind up kicking Delta out of the airport).

But American’s new lease makes sure that they can offer international service at Houston Hobby if they wanted to. Albeit from a single shared gate. In any case, I found the contract terms interesting.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Hello. In May 2015 I flew to Tokyo from HOU. I live near IAH and was frustrated that I could not get out from IAH. I can not stand the HOU airport and where it is located.

    I am glad they are invested in HOU but I do almost everything including paying more not to fly from there. It is not just the airport.

  2. I actually think it would make sense. Hobby is located not car from several predominately Hispanic communities that probably have business ties to Central America. Of course American already has a strong presence in Central America. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some sort of service to Monterrey or Mexico City, perhaps with a ERJ/CRJ.

  3. There’s a Texas secession joke to be made here but I’m not clever enough to make one.

  4. The cynic in me says that this is part of a backroom deal between UA and AA to 1) limit the amount of international expansion WN can conduct ex-HOU and 2) ensure limited access for new entrants. The quid-pro-quo is UA squatting on DAL gates and selling out to WN to keep DL from expanding at DAL (although we shall see how that turns out, in the end).

    AA wants no part of international service from HOU.

  5. have to agree with Gene. Also, with DOJ investigation going on, AA and everyone needs to make it look like they are truely competing.

  6. Ananth: I’ve been thinking maybe we should offer to trade the EU Texas for Greece. I think it would work better for all involved. (But, then again, the likelihood of getting anyone to take TX is nil.)

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