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2012 State of the Airports Highlights
Recent Growth

April 2, 2012

© Houston Airport System
Houston Mayor Annise Parker and aviation director Mario Diaz at the 2012 State of the Airports event.
Both George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) are benefiting from recent shifts within the aviation industry, and a host of construction projects are making sure that the two facilities are poised to handle even more growth in the future.

These were just two of the key topics covered in the 2012 State of the Airports event, held on March 22 at Houston’s Westin Galleria Hotel.

The event represents a vital opportunity for key business and community leaders to gather together and hear the latest information regarding past performance and future plans at the three airport facilities which make up Houston Airports: IAH, HOU and Ellington Airport.

“We all understand that a healthy airport system is vital to the future growth and prosperity of the city of Houston,” Mayor Parker said during her remarks. “The airports are often the only interaction that people from around the world have with our city government, so it has to be a positive experience.”

At the event, Mayor Parker and hundreds of other guests, were given a detailed account of key industry moments from the past year, such as the merger between United Airlines and Continental Airlines, as well as the purchase of AirTran Airways by Southwest Airlines.

Houston aviation director Mario Diaz says in both cases, the city of Houston gained new air service as a result of the business decision. The United Airlines merger places Houston as the “largest hub for the largest airline in the world,” while the Southwest Airlines acquisition has already sparked additional flight options for Houston passengers.

“We exist to connect the businesses, the people and the cultures of the world to Houston,” Diaz said. “In 2011, we added a total of 17 new routes. That’s vitally important to the overall economic success of our city.”

Ten of those new routes were launched at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, while the remaining seven were at William P. Hobby Airport. Diaz offered those in the audience a five year snapshot, summarizing the overall passenger growth trends in key areas at Bush and Hobby Airports.

International traffic has enjoyed a steady climb since 2007, increasing by 9.7 percent over the past five years. Total passenger counts have not rebounded completely to the levels seen prior to the economic downturn, but the most recent tallies from 2011 do offer an increase of almost a million and a half passengers over the totals recorded in 2009.

The growth recorded within Houston Airports’ air cargo section is equally impressive. The total tonnage handled at IAH and HOU over the past five years has increased by 7.9 percent, meaning that an additional 466,477 tons of cargo is being processed annually as compared to the totals from 1997.

Diaz pointed out to the audience that preparing for even more growth in the future is a key focal point at all three airport facilities. At Bush Intercontinental Airport, a joint venture between Houston Airports and United Airlines is bringing $1 billion in improvements to the Terminal B facility.

Construction crews at Hobby Airport have already brought customers a new lobby, ticket counter space and other improvements. In the near future, a new baggage claim area and elevated roadway will be added to the improvements list.

Significant expansions taking place at Ellington Airport were also part of Diaz’s State of the Airports presentation. The United States Military has recently invested more than $100 million in infrastructure projects at Ellington Airport.

The most recent project involves the United States Coast Guard and its new multi-million dollar headquarters facility.

“Ellington Airport has served Houston longer than any other airport in the city and continues to add value to our lives,” Diaz said. “It is a center for military, space exploration and general aviation needs.”

To see the 2012 State of the Airports Presentation and speech, visit our online Newsroom or Click Here. (
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