Hobby Airport History

William P. Hobby Airport has come a long way and was initially Houston's first international airport. The beginning of what we now know at William P. Hobby Airport began in June 1927 when W.T. Carter, Jr., opened at 193 acre airfield on Telephone Road and named it Houston Airport Corporation.  Learn about Hobby Airport's history with this timeline:

W.T. Carter Field Airmail Hangar

June 4, 1927

Houston Airport Corporation, owned by W.T. Carter, Jr., opened a 193 acre airfield on Telephone Road.

June, 1937

The City of Houston purchases W.T. Carter Field with a $500,000.00 bond issue and $150,000 in cash and renames it Houston Municipal Airport. Mr. Louis Hobbs is named airport manager.

July, 1938

After setting a new speed record flying his Lockheed 14 Super Electra around the world, Howard Hughes visits Houston for a 3 day celebration. During a banquet at the Rice Hotel, the City announces that Houston Municipal Airport will be renamed Howard Hughes Municipal Airport. A few months later, it is learned that the airport will be disqualified for Federal grant money if it is named after a living person and the name is changed back to Houston Municipal Airport.


1940 Air Terminal

September 28, 1940

The 1940 Air Terminal is dedicated, along with a new hangar. A public ceremony features an Eastern Airlines Douglas DC-2, a Braniff Airways DC-3 and Douglas DC-2, along with private and corporate aircraft based at Houston Municipal Airport. Designed by architect Joseph Finger, the Terminal serves as the administration building for the airport and supports airlines operations and air traffic control functions. The airline tenants are Eastern Airlines and Braniff Airways. The hangar is leased to fixed base operator Aviation Enterprises.


Paved runways, hangars and a runway lighting system are all major upgrades added by the City during World War II.


Houston adds an international wing to the 1940 Air Terminal, along with a new fourth floor, containing air traffic control offices and a new, larger control tower cab. The 1940 Air Terminal is retrofitted with air conditioning. This year, 41,989 airline flights to and from Houston carry 464,719 passengers.


The City of Houston expands the existing terminal, adds a new modern terminal and remodels the existing runway system to accommodate new international destinations with flight service from Houston to Central America and Europe.

November 4-5, 1954

Dedication of the new Houston International Airport Terminal. The dedication is marked by a two-day festival. General Ira Eaker is the keynote speaker, the US Navy Blue Angels perform and the public waits in long lines to tour airliners on static display, like Pan American World Airways' Boeing 377 Stratoliner. 


Texas Governor William P. Hobby



A new control tower is completed at Houston International and
tower operations are moved from the 1940 Air Terminal.


Houston International Airport is renamed William P. Hobby Airport after William Pettus Hobby, the 27th Governor of Texas and Houston civic leader.  The two terminals accommodate more than 2 million passengers annually during the airport’s big boom, but the passenger demand soon outgrows the parking and lobby space.


The City of Houston builds a new international airport north of the city to meet the growing demand. With the addition of a second Houston airport, Hobby downsizes its commercial traffic and is labeled a General Aviation Airport serving mainly private and corporate aircraft.



Commercial flights resume at Hobby and Southwest Airlines begins service from Hobby Airport to Dallas and San Antonio using Boeing 737's.


Southwest moves to new facilities in the original terminal at Hobby, remodeled at the cost of $400,000 by Southwest. The newly remodeled facilities include two jetway-equipped boarding gates and two 2500-square-foot departure lounges.

September 5, 1978

The last tenants in the 1940 Air Terminal vacate and the building is abandoned. Unable to find new tenants for the 1940 Air Terminal, Hobby Airport manager James DeLong proposes demolishing the building to make room for potential ramp tenants. DeLong is opposed by acting aviation director Bill Brackley and J.D. Reed, the Beechcraft dealer who has been a pillar of the Houston aviation community since the 1930s.

May, 2008

Houston Airport System opens the new Hobby Airport concourse, placing into service a massive and modern redesign of much of the 1954 Houston International Terminal.

July 16, 2010
Opening of the East Terminal Wing

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is held to celebrate the opening of the newly $250 million renovation of the airport's east terminal wing.  The improvements include increased lobby space, gate improvements and new artwork.  

April 2012

Houston Airports presented its findings to a joint meeting of the Houston City Council's budget and fiscal affairs and transportation, technology and infrastructure committee. Houston Mayor Annise Parker reviews the analysis and seeks input from stakeholders before deciding to accept the recommentation.


Press Conference at Hobby Airport to announce the approval of Southwest's proposal of International service at HOU.

May 2012

Mayor Annise Parker holds a press conference at William P. Hobby Airport to announce her support of Southwest Airlines and international service at HOU.

Houston City Council approves Southwest Airlines' plan for international service at William P. Hobby Airport in a 16-1 vote.


In addition to the multi-million dollar investment in a new international terminal, Southwest Airlines makes a multi-decade commitment to the City of Houston and Houston passengers through a 25-year use and lease agreement at Hobby Airport.

Groundbreaking of international terminal.


September 30, 2013

The Houston Airport System, City of Houston and Southwest Airlines officially break ground on the international terminal.

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