Mayor's Office Press Release

New Air Service Highlights Beginning of Asian Trade Mission

September 29, 2014 -- Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Aviation Director Mario C. Diaz are kicking off the first day of a comprehensive trade mission to Asia by meeting with representatives from Korean Air. 

The meeting, which is taking place in Seoul, South Korea, comes just five months after the country’s national carrier established nonstop air service between Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and Incheon International Airport (ICN).

“Houston is a key player on the global economic stage, and as such, it’s extremely important that we offer a broad level of connectivity at our airports,” says Mayor Parker.  “The arrival of Korean Air was a major step forward in meeting that responsibility, and we believe even more growth opportunities are waiting for us in the future.”

Mayor Parker and Diaz are meeting personally with the President of Korean Airlines, Mr. Chang Hoon Chi, and at least part of the discussion will center on the strong start being enjoyed by the Houston – Seoul route.  Demand for the new nonstop service has increased in each subsequent month since its May 2014 launch.

“There were several reasons to believe that this new route would prove to be mutually beneficial right from the start,” Diaz says.  “Korean Air gains access to one of the most dynamic economies and fastest growing populations in the world, while passengers in Houston find themselves with direct access to both Seoul and other key destinations located throughout Southeast Asia.”

Korean Air is one of a growing number of international carriers operating out of Bush Intercontinental Airport. Five new international air carriers have either announced (Interjet) or launched operations (Turkish Airlines, Air China, Korean Air, Scandinavian Airlines) at IAH over the past year-and-a-half, and the facility is on pace to handle more than 10 million international passengers in 2014, a record high.  Those numbers will likely grow to an even higher level when the Houston Airport System opens its international terminal at William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) in 2015.

Mayor Parker and Diaz are part of a 30-member delegation of local elected officials and business and community leaders who are engaging in a week-long trade mission to South Korea and Tokyo, Japan.  The trip, which was organized by the Greater Houston Partnership, is designed to enhance and cultivate business and cultural exchange opportunities between Houston leaders and key members of the public and private sector in Asia.

While in Tokyo, members of the delegation will once again find time to focus their attention on expanded connectivity through enhanced air service.  Mayor Parker and Diaz will be meeting with members of the Japanese media to discuss United Airline’s recent launch of a second flight frequency between IAH and Tokyo’s Narita International Airport.

Houston’s largest air carrier originally launched air service between Houston and Tokyo in 1999.  Fifteen  years later and passenger demand has reached a level that routinely warrants two flights per day.

(Mayor Parker will be available for phone interviews during the trip.  These may be arranged by contacting Chief Policy Officer and Director of Communications Janice Evans, who will be traveling with the mayor.  Contact information is at the bottom of this news release.)

About Greater Houston Partnership
The Greater Houston Partnership works to make Houston one of the world’s best places to live, work and build a business. It represents 11 counties: Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, San Jacinto, Walker and Waller. With more than 1,400 member organizations, GHP represents approximately one-fifth of the region’s workforce.