Jan. 27--More nonstop flights from Houston to global destinations including Shanghai, Mumbai, India and Santiago, Chile would boost the local economy, the city's top airport official told a luncheon audience today.
"For Houston's economy to continue its vibrant growth, we must position our airport system to make it possible for Houston to remain closely connected with emerging markets and strong economic centers globally," said Mario Diaz, director of the city's Department of Aviation.
"We can no longer be satisfied to merely be connected with every major city in the U.S. and Western Europe. We must now seek to position Houston as a major nexus in the global air transportation grid." .
Diaz spoke during the Greater Houston Partnership's annual State of the Airports luncheon at a Galleria area hotel.
He said the airport is pursuing direct flights to Vietnam, South Africa and India, among other countries.
Once Continental Airlines begins its daily nonstop flights to Lagos, Nigeria and Auckland, New Zealand in the next few years, Houston will become one of the four airports in the world with nonstop service to six major world regions, Diaz said.
Continental and Chicago-based United Airlines merged on Oct. 1 but they operate as separate units of the merged carrier until they receive their single operating certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration. Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport is a Continental hub.