United Airlines has announced it has filed an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for daily nonstop flights between Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport and Tokyo's Haneda Airport. If approved, United will become the first U.S. carrier to fly nonstop service between Houston and Haneda. This new route will benefit the Houston region's rapidly growing population, 240 plus Japanese-affiliated companies, as well as consumers living in communities across the Southern U.S.
The flights will connect 64 communities across the Southern U.S. to Haneda and represent roughly 575,000 annual Tokyo bookings or 21 percent of all U.S. mainland – Tokyo demand. While Houston has only one flight to Haneda (operated by a foreign carrier), New York/Newark has five, Los Angeles has seven, Chicago has three, and Washington, D.C. and Dallas/Fort Worth each have two. This new route will deliver more parity among major markets, while providing needed seats and travel flexibility to business and leisure travelers alike.
"Between its steadily growing population and its booming energy and innovation sectors, the Houston area has transformed into a critical hub for both business and leisure travel," said Patrick Quayle, Senior Vice President, Global Network Planning and Alliances at United Airlines.
"If awarded by the DOT, this new service will enhance travel options to Tokyo Haneda for consumers across the Southern United States, and strengthen the economic partnership between Japan and more than 240 affiliated businesses in the greater Houston area."
Operating the world's most comprehensive route network of any U.S. airline, United has worked diligently to develop a Japanese network to promote competition and provide affordable and consistent service options for U.S. travellers. United's Tokyo service currently spans all of the airline's seven U.S. hubs and includes multiple flights to each of Haneda and Narita airports.
United is the largest airline in Houston, with more than 14,000 employees and more than 400 daily departures, including over 70 international daily departures. According to a new study by Compass Lexecon, United's IAH hub and spending by foreign visitors to Houston on United and Star Alliance member flights support an estimated $5.3 billion per year in gross domestic product in Texas and in 2022 United's direct employment in Houston contributed $1.2 billion to economic activity.
Houston is a major center of commerce for health care, manufacturing, and, chiefly, the energy industry. Through its role as an energy powerhouse, the city of Houston and the state of Texas have developed important economic ties with Japan. Just last month, Houston was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy as one of seven regional clean hydrogen hubs, and the city's bid was made with support from Japanese subsidiary Mitsubishi Power Americas.
Altogether, Japanese-owned companies directly employ over 70,000 workers in Texas, including over 240 Japanese-affiliated companies in Houston. Further, Texas is home to 53 Fortune 500 companies with 24 located in the immediate Houston vicinity. According to the Texas Development Corporation, over the last decade, Japanese companies recorded 119 investment projects in Texas that are responsible for $6.9 billion in capital investment and 19,620 new jobs. Conversely, Texas companies recorded 25 investment projects in Japan, responsible for $799 million in capital investment and 1,667 new jobs. Houston's relationship with Japan extends beyond economic ties – the country's regional Consulate-General is also located in Houston.