Southwest Airlines  (LUV) – Get Report said that starting next year it will fly out of Chicago O’Hare as well as Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental, stepping up competition against rival United Airlines  (UAL) – Get Report.

Dallas-based Southwest has traditionally flown out of Chicago Midway and Houston Hobby, two smaller airports. 

“Today’s announcement furthers our commitment to both cities as we add service to share Southwest’s value and hospitality with more leisure and business travelers,” Southwest Chief Executive Gary Kelly said in a statement. 

Southwest last flew service out of both Houston Hobby and IAH in 2005. 

The company said that work is underway at Chicago O’Hare to add new service there and that service to both airports is anticipated to start in first-half 2021. 

O’Hare is in the midst of a $2.2 billion expansion with a new global terminal as its centerpiece. United Airlines is based in Chicago.

Last week, Southwest said that to avert job cuts and furloughs, it was asking its labor unions to accept pay cuts as federal aid to carriers was set to expire. 

Under the industry’s $25 billion agreement with the government, Southwest and other airlines were barred from furloughing or dismissing employees until after Oct. 1. 

The airline says that its revenue remains 70% below normal levels. 

The airline industry has been hammered by the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. 

Southwest has more than 4,800 employees based in Chicago and nearly 4,000 jobs in Houston. 

Southwest shares at last check were down 1% to $39.35. United Airlines stock was trading off 2.1% at $36.36. 

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An executive from the Greater Houston Partnership spoke with Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce members about the struggle for economic recovery, with forces pulling the economy both in and out of the recession.

Patrick Jankowski, senior vice president of the group, said Thursday the struggle was like a tug of war, with some factors pulling Houston’s economy into recovery, and others keeping the economy from progressing and bringing back jobs.

Some positives include consumer sentiment at its highest level since March; single-family home sales and car sales are back up, according to data from the US Census Bureau and the US Bureau of Economic Analysis. Jankowski said an increase in automobile sales was a short-term indicator of consumer confidence, while home sales were a long-term indicator of consumer confidence.

Jankowski also said retail sales overall have risen since the pandemic first hit in March and April, according to census data, like how sales go up around hurricane season.

“Think back about after Harvey hit the region and how regional sales surged because people were having to replace everything that was lost,” Jankowski said. “People weren’t able to shop early on in the pandemic, so now you’re starting to see this increase in retail sales.”

There are still some factors holding back economic recovery, he said, including the still present risk of COVID-119, turmoil in the stock market, high unemployment claims and the lack of a new economic stimulus package.

At the worst part of the great recession in 2009, there were about 600,000 unemployment claims weekly, he said, while the highest the U.S. has seen during the pandemic was 7 million weekly, but that

Chris Noble couldn’t stay retired long.

It was only six weeks into retirement when she starting working for one of Houston’s breast imaging centers, The Rose, as what she calls a “friend-raiser.”

But when Houston was required to quarantine earlier this year due to COVID-19, Noble’s ability to raise money for The Rose at public events became almost nonexistent.

That’s when she started painting.

“I started painting these pictures of women and as I started painting, I started adding bling and sparkles and that sort of stuff,” said Noble. “They turned out pretty fabulous.”

Noble began selling her paintings on social media for $250 each, or the cost of a mammogram, said Noble.

Her concept’s theme is Buy a Girl, Save a Girl and all the proceeds from the paintings go directly to The Rose to help aid its mission of helping patients receive breast cancer treatment.

As The Rose enters Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s hoping to serve as many patients as possible, insured or not. When patients with insurance pay to get a mammogram at The Rose, they also help pay for someone who is uninsured.

Noble hopes her art will be able to help patients as well, already raising enough money for 15 mammograms. Noble has painted over 150 pieces since May.

“So many women, so many families need help,” said Noble. “The Rose is needed more than ever before because so many women are not going to have health insurance.”

Noble owned her own IT company for 25 years before retiring in 2013. An extrovert at heart, her outgoing nature allowed her to continue working and volunteering as much as she could.

“I have been a patient for The Rose for many years, and I knew I

The players are accused of submitting false reimbursement claims for rehabilitation therapy by a Houston trainer, according to the Harris County DA.

HOUSTON — Eight former NFL players and a Houston athletic trainer have been indicted in a scheme to defraud an NFL player trust fund by submitting false claims for medical benefits, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced Monday.

Two of them, Corey Bradford and Shantee Orr, were Houston Texans and Jonathan Hadnot, Jr played college football at the University of Houston.

The claims were for rehabilitation by a trainer named Louis Ray, the owner of Rehab Express in the Galleria area.

Ray, 59, was indicted for the first-degree felony of Securing the Execution of a Document by Deception, for allegedly taking checks valued at more than $300,000. He surrendered Monday.

Prosecutors say Ray created fraudulent invoices claiming he performed treatments on players from March 7, 2016 to November 2018. The players would then sign and submit forms to be reimbursed by the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Plan, a health-reimbursement account. The players are accused of pocketing the reimbursement money and paying Ray for signing and verifying the fake invoices.

Medical records show that 92 claims were submitted claiming reimbursements totaling $723,826 with Ray allegedly receiving payments totaling $112,972.

“Health insurance scams are insidious because that kind of fraud leads to higher premiums for everyone else,” Watson said. “Not only does it increase the rates, but it costs a lot of taxpayer money to investigate these.”

Former NFL players indicted

  • Corey Bradford: indicted for the second-degree felony of Securing the Execution of a Document by Deception, for allegedly taking checks valued at more than $150,000 and less than $300,000. Bradford 44,  was a wide receiver with the Houston Texans from 2002-2005.
  • Shantee Orr: indicted for

Annie Johnson Benifield’s says her father served in WWII, but didn’t have the right to vote.

HOUSTON — Not being able to vote, is not ancient history, not something Annie Johnson Benifield had to read in a book, her father, a son of a former slave, was first allowed to vote when he was in his 50s.

“The past is not so long ago for me,” Johnson Benifield told KHOU 11. “Being the second generation in my family born out of slavery. My father was a first generation born out of slavery, and he lived to be 90 years old and he voted in every single election until his passing in 2004.”

Johnson Benifield shares the family stories with her government and politics students at Lone Star College-Tomball. KHOU 11 followed her around at a drive-thru voter registration site, one of many she was working as part of her League of Women Voters of Houston volunteer job. Johnson Benifield is the VP of Voter Services for the Houston chapter.

RELATED: Groups across Texas host voter registration drives amid COVID-19 pandemic

“My dad was drafted in World War II where he had no say, he had no ability to advocate for himself, to cast a ballot to select a political leader,” Johnson Benifield said. “to determine his faith and we were fighting for freedom and democracy around the world. At least that’s the avocation that that’s what was happening. But at the same time, he had no say in that process. And then as a 50 plus-year-old man, he was born in 1912, he didn’t get a chance to cast a ballot until the 1968 presidential election, in direct response to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”

Three League of Women Voters area chapters joined forces with the Harris County Libraries