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Houston’s Hobby Airport to Undergo Major Expansion Following City Council Approval

  • Airports
  • 4 min read

Houston City Council has greenlit expansive development plans for Houston’s William P. Hobby Airport. The airport, which has witnessed considerable growth over the past decade, is poised to undergo changes that will redefine the passenger experience and accommodate an escalating demand for air service.

The Hobby Airport Expansion Overview

West Concourse at Houston's Hobby Airport
Terminal photos of Hobby Airport. June 7, 2023. Source: Houston Hobby Airport

The City Council has unanimously approved an investment of $470 million for the West Concourse expansion at Hobby Airport. Slated to commence in early 2024, this two-year project will see:

  • The addition of 7 new gates tailored for both domestic and international flights.
  • A comprehensive overhaul and enlargement of the baggage handling system and baggage claim zones.
  • Installation of a protective overhead canopy on the departures curb. It will connect the Red Garage with the main terminal, shielding passengers from unpredictable weather.

This robust financial commitment builds upon the Council’s earlier approval in March 2022, where they sanctioned $20 million for the project’s planning and design stages. As the expansion progresses, an additional request for a $200 million supplemental appropriation is expected within the next year, rounding the total investment to the previously mentioned $470 million.

Western Concourse and the Return of International Travel at Hobby Airport

Less than a decade ago, the $156 million, 280,000 square-foot West Concourse opened its doors in 2015. Southwest Airlines launched service. The Concourse features five gates suited to international and domestic flights. These are complemented by a ticketing hall, a Federal Inspection Services facility, and an expanded TSA checkpoint. As a result of this project, Hobby Airport celebrated the return of international travel after 46 years.

In 2016, the first full year of international service, Hobby Airport welcomed 801,000 international passengers and 12.1 million domestic travelers.

Growing “Houston Friendly”

The latest expansion seeks to build on this foundation by presenting a design that encapsulates modern aesthetics, abundant natural lighting, and the iconic “Houston Friendly” ambiance. The refurbished space will also pave the way for additional restaurants, retail outlets, and art installations.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner remarked, “With business and leisure travel on the rise, this is an exciting time for expansion at one of our major airports. Passengers deserve a first-class experience. As a global city and sought-after destination, we have excelled in attracting new air services. Enhancing our Houston Hobby Airport infrastructure strengthens the backbone of our economic vitality and cultural prosperity. This expansion project symbolizes our commitment to a thriving future.”

Highlighting the importance of this expansion, Mario Diaz, Aviation Director for Houston Airports, stated, “Passengers trust that their experience at Hobby will include world-class amenities, ‘Houston friendly’ customer service, and a flight schedule reflective of our city’s diverse spirit. It makes sense that passengers desire to board more flights to more destinations from Hobby. Today’s unanimous approval underscores the vital role of Houston Airports in maintaining and building on that positive momentum.”

Hobby Airport Celebrating Excellence

2023 has been a banner year for Hobby Airport, evidenced by numerous accolades, including:

  • Two-time winner of the Best Regional Airport in North America.
  • Voted as the Most Enjoyable Airport in North America by passengers.
  • Recognized for the World’s Best Airport Arts Program.

Despite challenges posed by the pandemic in 2022, Hobby Airport registered impressive numbers, with over 913,000 international and 12.2 million domestic travelers passing through its gates.

A Hub of Employment: Southwest Airlines’ Contribution to Houston

It is also a busy hub for Southwest Airlines, which contributes significantly to the Houston economy. The airline employs more than 5,000 people in Houston, most based at Hobby Airport.

Southwest Airlines‘ Vice President of Airport Affairs, Steve Sisneros, conveyed the airline’s approval of the further expansion, saying, “We appreciate the City of Houston’s longstanding support of Southwest as we continue expanding our service from Hobby Airport. We look forward to working together with the City and Houston Airports to bring this expansion project to fruition over the next few years.”

If You Build It, They Will Come

A testament to its growth, Hobby Airport currently offers flights to 83 destinations via five premier airlines. Tracing its origins to June 1927, the airport began as W.T. Carter Field, a humble private airstrip, opened in a 600-acre pasture. That pasture has blossomed and is now transformed into one of Houston’s main aviation gateways.

With this exciting announcement, Houston residents and travelers worldwide have much to look forward to in the coming years.

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