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Throwing Down the Global Gauntlet Houston Airports Set Ambitious Agenda

A wave of globalization enthusiasm engulfed those attending the State of the Airports presentation in Houston today as Mario Diaz, the new Director of Aviation for the city of Houston, drew a swath across the world map and pinpointed how the city’s airports plan to impact the airways. Touting the fact that Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) is poised to become one of only four airports worldwide with nonstop service to all six major world regions, Diaz also focused attention on the 82 percent on-time performance level at IAH, fourth place ranking for international destinations, and top ranking among U.S. airports offering non-stop service to destinations in Mexico.

“For the airport system, the need is to strengthen relationships and position Houston as a major nexus in the global transportation grid,” said Diaz who noted that more than one in seven Houston air passengers travels internationally. The Houston Airport System (HAS) director also envisioned more foreign flag carriers entering the U.S. and eventually, the introduction of low-cost international air service at Houston Airports.

The event sponsored by the Greater Houston Partnership, drew a crowd of more than 500 top business leaders, public officials, and members of the Houston International Consular Corp. Diaz introduced them to the airport system’s four new strategic goals:

• Build a High Performance Organization – A high performance organization is an institution where employees take ownership of the mission, vision and core values. Our goal is to bring out the best in our employees and set the standard that others in the industry will try and emulate.

• Opening Day Fresh – In order to maintain our competitive position and to showcase our city to visitors, we want to restore and maintain the equipment and facilities so that all three airports will run seamlessly, efficiently, and with an ambience that travelers will come to identify as Houston.

• Fund the Future – The Houston Airport System is a fiscally strong and vibrant organization; however we need to use technology to control costs, increase non-airline revenues, maximize federal funding, implement green initiatives, and drive productivity across all levels in order to maintain our credit strength while meeting our other strategic goals.

• Let’s Go Global – We see expansion and the greatest potential for growth in air service, in the international arena. Our facilities and employees must be ready for globalization in order to expand the reach and lift, from our gateways.

Diaz outlined the target markets for air service being pursued by HAS in 2011 as; Shanghai China, Mumbai India, Sao Paolo Brazil, Panama City Panama, Santiago Chile, Johannesburg South Africa, Vietnam and Korea.

Future highlights for HAS include daily non-stop service from Houston to Lagos, Nigeria and Houston to Auckland, New Zealand in 2012.

New or added air service for both passenger travel and cargo, introduced in 2010 included; Tuxtla-Gutierrez Mexico, Angola, Monterrey Mexico, Moscow, Dubai, Hong Kong, Taipei Taiwan, Crested Butte Colorado, Panama City Florida, and Branson Missouri

Highlights for HAS in 2010 included a $250 million dollar renovation project underway at William P. Hobby Airport (HOU), a $100 million dollar improvement and expansion project by the military, at Ellington Airport, and significant increases in international and domestic passenger traffic at HOU and IAH, along with double digit increases in cargo traffic.

For more information about the Houston Airport System please visit

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