By Robert Poole
In Houston, Southwest Airlines is getting ready to spend $100 million improving city-owned Hobby Airport. Southwest is building five new international gates and a customs facility so that it can add service to Mexico and the Caribbean from Hobby, the smaller of Houston’s two airports.
In approving Southwest’s plan a few weeks ago, the Houston City Council rejected an all-out lobbying campaign by United Airlines, which uses the city’s larger airport, Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport, as one of its major hubs.
United claimed that having international service from both Houston airports would undermine its own operation at Bush Airport and hurt the region’s economy.
The City Council ignored the pressure from the nation’s largest air carrier and voted to approve the airport expansion plan. As a result, travelers to and from Houston are likely to see more travel choices, increased competition among airlines and lower ticket prices.
Recent events surrounding a Gwinnett County Commissioner have saddened all of us as Gwinnett County residents. Fly Gwinnett Forward believes the most appropriate way to resolve the issue surrounding Briscoe Field is for the County to release the proposal it received and for a referendum to be placed on the November ballot by the Board of Commissioners regarding Briscoe’s future. This action would allow adequate time for the citizens to properly analyze the proposal on its own merits and enables all of the voting citizens of Gwinnett County to make an informed decision on this matter via the ballot box.
Recently, Gaye McNeil voiced her thoughts about her involvement on the Airport Privatization Review Committee ("Airport committee deserved better," May 6, 10A). Had I not been a part of this process, I would be appalled at her experience. Luckily, I WAS part of the process; as a spectator, and most recently, as a member of the committee.
So I know "the rest of the story."
Atlanta does not appear ready for a secondary airport, based on information given to a citizens review group looking into adding passenger service to Briscoe Field.
But the relevancy of the data was questioned, since a proposal would create a small destination at the Lawrenceville field.
"It's going to be, what kind of demand you have in the area?" task force member Mary Jane Kelley Pollizzoto said of the main point of her presentation, which included information from a recent Hartsfield study that ruled out the Gwinnett County Airport as a potential reliever. "I don't know how much traffic you are going to pull away from the original airport."
Commissioner Lynette Howard on Tuesday helped a citizens group tasked with evaluating the future of Gwinnett's Briscoe Field hone its work. In fact, she gave members' homework.
The task force, which temporarily disbanded last year, citing a lack of support and direction from the Board of Commissioners, was given a list of more than a dozen questions to answer as part of its work.
The questions range from the airport's role in the county's economy, its brand and how things will change under certain conditions.
A group opposing scheduled service at Briscoe Field has started a petition, hoping to get 50,000 signatures. CBS-46 took a look at the effort, and interviewed people on both sides of the issue in this video.
At least two companies are interested in bidding to take over Gwinnett's Briscoe Field.
Representatives from Propeller Airports and Saker Aviation, along with other consulting firms, attending a pre-bid conference Thursday involving the potential privatization of the county airport.
Brett Smith, of Propeller said the company is still interested in bringing commercial passenger service to the small airfield -- a proposal that has fueled debate for three years. But just because the county has finally reached the proposal stage, he said, does not bring him relief.
- Committee: Study Briscoe economic, environmental questions
- Proposals sought for Gwinnett's Briscoe Field
- Gwinnett airport task force searches for mission
- Could commercial air service help Gwinnett? Yes
- Briscoe Field citizen review panel holds first meeting
- Fly Gwinnett Forward Questions Impartiality of Airport Panelist
- Process begins anew on Gwinnett airport, advisory board formed
- The Great Debate on Briscoe Field