Bush Airport among the most improved in the world, according to industry expert survey results

Bush Airport was ranked No. 3 among the most improved airports in the world and the No. 9 airport in the world for dining, according to an annual survey conducted by Skytrax

March 15, 2017

HOUSTON — Results from a survey of nearly 14 million airline customers cited George Bush Intercontinental Airport as one of the most improved airports in the world, and among the best in the world for airport dining.

Bush Airport was ranked No. 3 among the most improved airports in the world and the No. 9 airport in the world for dining, according to an annual survey conducted by Skytrax, recognized as a leading global air transport rating organization.

“We have worked incredibly hard to ensure that George Bush Intercontinental Airport properly reflects Houston as a dynamic and diverse global gateway city,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “This recognition is the direct result of those efforts and I am certain that it will inspire the entire airport team to reach for even greater heights moving forward.”

The Skytrax World Airport Awards — a global benchmark of airport excellence, and widely known as the Passengers Choice Awards — are among the most prestigious accolades for the airport industry, and are compiled through the largest, annual global airport customer satisfaction survey. The results of the survey were announced at the 2017 Skytrax World Airport Awards at Passenger Terminal EXPO in Amsterdam on March 14, 2017.

The 2017 awards are based on 13.82 million airport survey questionnaires completed by 105 different nationalities of airline customers from July 2016 to February 2017. The surveys were offered in 550 airports worldwide and evaluated traveler experiences across different airport service and product key performance indicators — from check-in, arrivals, transfers, shopping, security and immigration through to departure at the gate.

According to Skytrax, the award for the "World's Most Improved Airport" is based on the relative year-on-year quality performance by all airports featured in the World Airport Survey, and takes into account the change in rating together with performance changes across the different product and service categories in the awards.

“Our drive to improve was not limited to one single area and as a result, the list of enhancements at George Bush Intercontinental Airport virtually covers the entire airport operation,” said Mario Diaz, Director of Aviation for the Houston Airport System. “Our goal is to create a complete experience for our customers and that involves modern facilities, a wide range of dining and shopping options and special amenities that help minimize the level of stress that potentially accompanies air travel. It is all part of our vision to establish Houston as a five-star global air service gateway where the magic of flight is celebrated.”

Bush Airport was the highest rated airport for dining in North America. The Houston Airport System recently completed an upgrade of concessions choices at both Bush Airport and William P. Hobby Airport. Earlier this month, RewardExpert.com ranked Bush Airport No. 5 overall in its 2017 Airport Dining Scorecard, and ranked tops among the top 20 most trafficked airports for vegetarian and vegan dining options.

Overall, Bush Airport was ranked No. 54 in the world in the Top 100 airport ratings for 2017, an improvement from the 2016 ranking of No. 71. A complete list of the Top 100 airports can be found at this link.

Skytrax awarded William P. Hobby Airport a 4-star rating in 2016, making it one of just three airports in the United States to earn a 4-star rating, while adding that “this is an airport with potential to build on the existing facilities to offer an experience that is truly special and closer to a 5-star quality level.”

Bush Airport maintained its 3-star rating from Skytrax in 2016, but the audit report noted that “the actual customer experience is in fact meeting a 3.5-star quality level when the rating results are assessed across the broad spectrum of audit criteria,” and that several areas “meet (or exceed) 4-star standards.”

World Airport Rating is the international airport quality ranking program operated by Skytrax. Ratings are determined through direct and professional analysis of industry quality standards. The Airport Star Ratings are recognized as a global benchmark of airport standards.

The World Airport Awards began in 1999, when Skytrax launched its first global, airport customer satisfaction survey. The focus is to deliver a customer survey and airport awards process that is independent, impartial and global, and this ethos remains essential to all aspects in the present day. The survey and awards process is funded by Skytrax, and is not a profit-generating operation. A complete list of the category winners can be found at this link.

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Hobby Airport hits '90' and still going strong
June 14, 2017

HOUSTON — Things certainly have changed in the 90 years since a 600-acre pasture — used as a landing field in the still early days of aviation — began the journey toward the modern and growing facility today at William P. Hobby Airport.

Houston’s first commercial airport reached its 90th anniversary earlier in June.

First utilized as a private airfield in 1927, the City of Houston purchased the facility in 1937 and expanded it to 1,240 acres. One year later, it opened as the city’s first commercial airport, complete with its very own control tower. Known then as Howard Hughes Airport and served only by Braniff Airways and Eastern Airlines, the name was eventually changed to Houston Municipal Airport, and its wooden structure was replaced by a more permanent building.

Along with its commercial operations, the facility was used during World War II as a training site for the Women’s Flying Training Detachment. By the end of the war the airport had paved runways, city-built hangars, and a lighting system, and four additional airlines had begun service. It was only a short time later the first international flight service began, prompting a change of name to Houston International Airport in 1954.

The 1950s saw many additions and improvements made in keeping with the airport's international status, including expansion of the old terminal, construction of a new modern terminal, lengthened and strengthened runways capable of handling the new turbojet aircraft, several new hangars, and a high-intensity lighting system. As flight demand grew, so did the airport, and by the mid-1960s facility expansion included an additional terminal and, in 1967, the facility was named in honor of longtime Houston civic leader and Texas Governor William P. Hobby.

When George Bush Intercontinental Airport opened in 1969, Hobby Airport briefly shifted focus to general aviation service, but commercial flights returned to the facility in 1971, and the steady growth and expansion began again.

Today, Hobby Airport boasts an expanded and modern terminal complex, with a new Federal Inspection Services facility to accommodate the return of international air service to the airport in 2015. The final pieces of an ambitious $250 million expansion included another successful partnership with Southwest Airlines and produced a $156 million 280,000-square-foot terminal expansion. A $55 million, 1 million-square-foot new parking facility — coupled with improvements made to the existing terminal parking garage and expansion of the ecopark lot — highlight the $100 million invested by the City of Houston and the Houston Airport system in enabling projects to complement the expansion.

The new terminal facility has been open and operating since October 2015, and already has earned accolades from industry leaders and, more importantly, customers. The new terminal facility includes a five-gate concourse, a modern FIS facility, Southwest Airlines ticketing hall and expanded security checkpoint.

The new, modern concourse boasts “swing gates” — which can accommodate both international and domestic travelers — an expansive ticketing area equipped with self-tagging kiosks to speed up the check-in process, abundant seating in the gate areas that feature seats with electric outlets for charging phones and personal devices, and modern customs facilities that include 14 Automated Passport Control and six Global Entry kiosks to streamline U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) screening and baggage processing for arriving international passengers.

Even prior to the arrival of international air service, Hobby Airport was experiencing unprecedented growth in recent years. Last year marked the sixth consecutive year that an all-time record was set in regards to passenger totals. Nearly 13 million passengers traveled through Hobby Airport in 2016, including more than 800,000 international passengers in the first full year of international air service there.

To learn more all that Hobby Airport has to offer — including its recent expanded retail and dining options — visit this link.