Houston approves international terminal at Hobby

Washington DC
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Over the opposition of United Contintenal, the Houston city council approved a measure that will allow Southwest Airlines to build an about $100 million international terminal at the city's Hobby Airport today.

The council approved the deal by a 16-1 vote. Houston mayor Annise Parker and the Houston Airport System supported the measure.

Dallas-based Southwest will design, build and pay for the new terminal and federal inspection services facility to the city's specifications. The terminal will have five gates with the airline receiving preferential access to four gates for up to 25 years under the terms of a memorandum of understanding with the airport system.

The terminal is expected to open in 2015.

United Airlines opposes the project and threatened to shrink its operations at the city's George Bush Intercontinental Airport by up to 10% by 2015 if the plan was approved.

Chicago-based United operates its largest hub at Intercontinental.

Southwest plans to launch international flights to the Caribbean, Mexico and Central and South America from Hobby once the new terminal opens.