Houston Aviation Director Addresses
State of the Airports

April 3, 2014

© Houston Airport System
Houston's economy is fueling airlines to either establish or expand route service between Houston and both domestic and international destinations.
Houston Aviation Director Mario Diaz detailed the unprecedented year Houston Airports enjoyed in 2013 during the annual State of the Airports hosted by the Greater Houston Partnership held March 13 at the Westin Oaks Houston.

Houston’s economy is booming and fueling airlines to expand their service to meet the demands of the local market. As a result, air carriers either announced or established new air service both domestically and internationally in 2013, leading to a record number of international travelers at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) for the fourth consecutive year and all-time high passenger totals at William P. Hobby Airport (HOU).

Passenger traffic at Hobby Airport increased by 6.4 percent — from 10.4 million in 2012 to 11.1 million in 2013. New passenger records were also set at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, where growth in international passenger totals from 2013 fell just short of the 9 million mark. Diaz explained that Houston is the most diverse major metropolitan area in the country, and he has instructed his team to take a global approach when catering to the air service needs of the Houston region.

“And just as impressive as the new flights themselves, was the response from the Houston market to the new service,” said Diaz. He further described how Turkish Airlines, Air China and Korean Air all quickly decided the market could support daily service and all announced plans to begin daily service in 2014. Korean Air made the announcement even before their first flight.

United Airlines also announced last year that it will launch a second daily nonstop flight to Tokyo-Narita and new service to Munich in Spring 2014. Singapore Airlines, Aeromexico and Spirit Airlines also increased their presence in 2013.

Thanks to an agreement with Southwest Airlines, Hobby Airport will again welcome international air service after an absence of almost 45 years. Construction is already underway on a new five-gate terminal that will accommodate international service to destinations in Mexico, Central America, the northern rim of South America and the Caribbean when passenger air service begins in 2016. The new terminal at Hobby Airport translates into an incremental $1.6 billion annual economic impact for the Houston region, and will create about 10,000 jobs.

With the opening of the international terminal comes a new parking garage at Hobby Airport with almost 3,000 additional spaces and roadway improvements.

Diaz also mentioned the meaning behind “shaping the journey” of Houston Airports — the theme behind the 2013 HAS annual report. One important initiative is bringing a spaceport to Ellington. The feasibility study is complete, and HAS is halfway through the process of submitting a formal application required by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“It’s simply the next logical step in the evolution of commercial travel, and I believe Houston needs to be leading the charge, especially given the fact that we enjoy such a well-deserved reputation as a leader in the aerospace industry,” said Diaz.

Additional growth is anticipated, and HAS will continue to abide by its mission to, “Connect the people, the businesses, the cultures and the economies of the world to Houston.”

For more information on the State of the Airports click here.
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