HOUSTON – Southwest Airlines confirmed Thursday that it’s considering flights to Mexico from Hobby Airport.
The flights would be operated by AirTran Airways, which Southwest recently acquired. The plans are still in the very early stages, said Olga Romero, a Southwest spokesperson.
“Southwest Airlines has recently expressed interest in conducting international operations from Houston,” Mario Diaz, the aviation director for the Houston Airport System, said in a written statement. “We are currently evaluating the request made by Southwest and have agreed to give it fair and full consideration."
The new flights could increase Hobby Airport’s profile. Currently, only George Bush Intercontinental Airport offers international flights in Houston.
"Our airports are important, are very important to us and anything we can do to increase traffic at our airports is good for the region and good for the City of Houston," Mayor Annise Parker said.
But there would be some challenges. Right now, Hobby's not ready for international travel.
"There's nothing we would need to do to the airport, per se,” Parker said. “But we would need the presence of customs and immigration -- and that would depend on the cooperation of the federal government."
Southwest wouldn’t provide details of specific international destinations from Houston, stressing that the talks were preliminary.
"We want to fly where our customers want to fly," spokesperson Olga Romero said.
But just last month, the Dallas-based, low-cost airline announced flights to Cancun and Mexico City from San Antonio – also operated by AirTran. Those flights were priced at $119 each way.
Passengers on Thursday seemed to like the idea of easier travel to Mexico from Houston's smaller airport.
"I love Southwest’s service,” said Brittany Boynton. “They never cancel a flight."
"International flights are more expensive,” said Carlos Flores. “But if it's at an affordable price, yes, it'd be very convenient."