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AIRLINE INDUSTRY Southwest plans to exit Bush airport in Houston



Published: Fri, January 28, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Southwest traffic has stagnated at Bush Intercontinental Airport.

DALLAS (AP) -- Southwest Airlines Co. said Thursday it will stop service at Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport April 2 because of ongoing losses there but will continue to operate at nearby and smaller Hobby Airport.

Southwest offers six daily nonstop flights between Bush airport and Dallas Love Field.

The airline said it would contact passengers with tickets or reservations on flights at Bush airport after April 2 to help them make new arrangements. The company said employees at the airport would be guaranteed jobs elsewhere, including Hobby.

Houston's other airport

Hobby Airport is one of Southwest's busiest, with 139 daily departures, including 29 to Dallas.

Chief executive Gary Kelly said the airline was dropping service at Bush airport for business reasons. Airlines are trying to control costs to deal with higher fuel prices and fare wars that are sapping revenue.

"With the continuing airline industry challenges, we cannot continue to serve two airports in Houston and realize the losses we have generated for years at Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport," Kelly said. "We are making an enormous commitment to Houston Hobby Airport, making it the focal point of our future growth."

Southwest has operated at both Houston airports since 1980. Traffic has grown at Hobby but stagnated at Bush.

Southwest plans to begin service at Pittsburgh in May. The airline has only pulled out of four airports in its 33-year history: Beaumont in 1980, Denver's Stapleton International Airport in 1986, Detroit City Airport in 1993, and San Francisco.

Southwest shares slipped 9 cents to $14.30 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Its shares have traded in a 52-week range of $12.88 and $17.06.




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