Axios Houston

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🌑 Happy Monday! And Ramadan Mubarak to everyone fasting this month.

🌤️ Today's weather: Cloudy with a high of 73.

🌳 Sounds like: "Dogwood" by Whiskey Myers.

Today's newsletter is 946 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Airplane incidents raise new concerns

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A spate of aviation incidents in the last week — including a few in Houston — is raising fresh safety concerns in the wake of January's near-catastrophe involving a Boeing 737 MAX 9.

Why it matters: Many travelers are on edge heading into the busy summer air travel season.

Driving the news: A United Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 slid off the runway Friday while landing in Houston. It's unclear if mechanical issues played a role, though news footage suggests the landing gear collapsed at some point, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick writes.

  • "We are closely monitoring the situation and will provide any support needed to United Airlines and the investigators," a Boeing spokesperson tells Axios.

Last Monday, a United Boeing 737-900 safely returned to Houston after flames were spotted spewing from one of its engines, which had "ingested some plastic bubble wrap that was on the airfield prior to departure," the airline said.

Plus: A United Boeing 777 lost a tire shortly after takeoff from San Francisco on Thursday. The aircraft landed safely in Los Angeles and nobody was injured, though the flying tire smashed into a parked car.

The big picture: Each of these incidents will be investigated separately. Based on what's currently known, there's nothing to suggest a link between them — despite the fact that they all involved United-flown, Boeing-made aircraft.

  • While aircraft manufacturers are responsible for ensuring they build and deliver safe planes, airlines are chiefly on the hook for maintaining them post-delivery.

💭 Our thought bubble: Aircraft are highly complex machines, and minor to moderate mechanical issues aren't uncommon.

  • To some extent, what's happening here may be chalked up to "frequency illusion" — we're paying extra attention to aviation mishaps because we're all at least a little freaked out about January's 737 MAX door blowout.

Yes, but: That's not to minimize any of these incidents, which all deserve investigators' attention, as they may turn up useful information for aircraft makers, operators and travelers.

Go deeper

2. Houston companies are renewing leases

Largest U.S. office leases in 2023 in square footage, by industry
Data: CBRE; Chart: Axios Visuals

More companies in Houston and nationally are staying put, as opposed to moving to new spaces.

The big picture: Most of the biggest U.S. office leases got renewed last year, as companies continue to adjust to a workweek that's part remote and part in office, Sami Sparber reports based on a report first shared with Axios.

By the numbers: 58 of the 100 largest office leases by square footage nationally in 2023 were renewals, per a report from CBRE, a commercial real estate firm.

  • That's a big shift from 2019, when 68% of the top 100 were new leases and 32% were renewals.
  • In Houston, 66 office leases greater than 10,000 square feet were renewals, according to CBRE. Those renewals account for more than 2 million square feet of office space.

The intrigue: At 22.2%, the share of available rental space in Houston last year was among the highest in the country.

The fine print: Employers around the country are shrinking their office footprints and looking to rein in costs, Axios' Emily Peck reports.

State of play: Job growth is expected to slow in Houston this year, per the Greater Houston Partnership.

Context: While companies are leasing less space, they're betting higher-quality space in prime locations will get workers to come into the office more often, according to CBRE.

  • Three-quarters of the top 100 leases by square footage were in top-rated buildings, per the report.

Between the lines

3. Bayou Buzz

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

ğŸŽ Nearly half of Houston ISD's principals were put on notice by superintendent Mike Miles over low proficiency screenings. (Houston Chronicle)

💵 Mayor John Whitmire is considering cutting city department budgets by 5%, except for police and fire, as the city deals with an impending shortfall of $160 million. (Houston Public Media)

ğŸŽï¸ Houston's Coffee and Cars, a weekly supercar meetup at POST Houston, banned modern muscle cars from attending after some drivers performed burnouts. (Chron)

4. Social Calendar

The All-American Rejects performed in Houston this year during the College Football Playoff. Photo: Marcus Ingram/Getty Images for ESPN

🚀 Head to Space Center Houston for the annual Moon 2 Mars Festival. There will be space-themed activities and performances from bands like the All-American Rejects.

  • The festival runs Wednesday through Saturday. Space Center general admission of $35 covers festival entry.

🖌 Take the kiddos on spring break to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. There will be several craft activities throughout the week.

  • $20 for ages 13-18; children under 12 get in free.

🏆 Watch "Miss Congeniality" at Axelrad Beer Garden for free Monday.

  • The movie begins at sunset.

🤠 Learn line dancing for the rodeo season at Z Dance LLC on Wednesday.

  • The lesson begins at 7pm. $10.

🤣 Laugh about pop culture at the "What's Poppin'?" comedy show at The Secret Group.

  • Wednesday, 10pm. $5.

Share with a friend

5. Sweet Times: Deep-fried rodeo treats

They had all the potential. Photo: Jay R. Jordan/Axios

👋 Jay and Shafaq here! What's a trip to Rodeo Houston without fried desserts?

Driving the news: The rodeo is known for offering some pretty outlandish fare, and sweets of the deep-fried variety are no exception.

Dig in: On a recent trip to the carnival grounds, Jay tried fried cookie dough ($10) at Sweet Cheeks, while Shafaq had a fried Snickers bar ($9).

  • There were several other options for fried treats available throughout the grounds, including deep-fried Oreos, Reese's Big Cup and even Nutella.

The intrigue: The desserts, while indulgent in their own right, were slightly disappointing to both of us.

Shafaq's thoughts: I clearly didn't remember my lesson from last year: not all fried Snickers are created equal. This one was a bit stale.

Jay's thoughts: I was hoping for more constructed cookie dough inside the deep-fried casing, but the first bite melted into my mouth along with a deluge of chocolate.

📧 Sound off: What's your favorite dessert at Rodeo Houston?

  • Let us know by replying to this email!

Thanks to Bob Gee for editing and Khalid Adad and Yasmeen Altaji for copy editing this newsletter.

🖼 Shafaq thrifted the perfect large frame, only to crack the glass mere minutes after bringing it home.

🤒 Jay is still getting over feeling under the weather.