Record-breaking international passenger numbers have become the norm at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) — and they continue to be.
But now, midyear numbers for the big airport show an increase in domestic passengers as well for 2015.
According to the most recent traffic statistics for the first six months of the year — January to June 2015 — overall commercial passenger traffic at IAH increased 3.6 percent over the same period last year. The first six months of 2015 saw 20,894,696 passengers, up from the 20,174,343 through the first six months of 2014.
That number keeps pace with the overall increase IAH enjoyed in 2014, when a 3.6 percent growth saw Bush Intercontinental eventually welcome a record of more than 41.2 million combined domestic and international passengers travel through the airport for the year.
As important, domestic passenger traffic at IAH is up 3.5 percent over the same time period last year — from 15,246,128 in 2014 to 15,775,148 in 2015. That is a significant increase over 2014, when IAH saw an overall 2 percent increase in domestic passenger numbers.
As well, international passenger numbers continue to grow at IAH. In the first six months of the year, international passenger totals are up 3.9 percent — from 4,928,215 in 2014 to 5,119,548 for the first six months of 2015. That is a greater pace than in 2014, when Bush Intercontinental saw a record number of more than 9.8 million international passengers. At its current rate, IAH would see nearly 10.2 million international passengers in 2015.
The key factor is the nonstop international flight activity that continues to flourish in Houston. Already this year, Houston has welcomed new international service from Volaris, Vacation Express, All Nippon Airways and EVA Air and expanded service from several existing airlines. Later this year, WestJet will add nonstop service between Houston and Calgary, Canada and Air New Zealand will begin nonstop service to Auckland, New Zealand.
When the Air New Zealand service to Auckland starts, IAH will be one of only five airports in the world that offers nonstop service to all six inhabited continents. Houston will join the company of airports in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha and Johannesburg with the ability to stake this claim.
Meanwhile at William P. Hobby Airport (HOU), after passenger traffic has reached all-time highs for four consecutive years, numbers have begun to level off in 2015, but still remain at historically high levels. Domestic passenger totals at Hobby Airport are slightly down, dropping 1.9 percent from the same time period last year — 5,852,020 in 2014 to 5,741,204 in 2015.
Those numbers could increase, however, when Southwest Airlines begins nonstop service from Hobby Airport to nine new international destinations by the end of the year. In the coming years, the addition of international service is expected to eventually add 1 million passengers per year to Hobby Airport.
The mid-year pace would push the 2015 passenger totals past last year’s record-setting number, when the Houston Airport System (HAS) saw more than 53.1 million passengers travel through its two commercial airports.