George Bush Intercontinental Airport Turns 52
June 22, 2021

George Bush Intercontinental Airport, IAH, first opened for business June 8, 1969, and this year marks 52 years of service.  

Bush Airport was borne out of the necessity to relieve what was then known as Houston International Airport, the Texas State Historical Association's Handbook of Texas said. Upon the airport’s completion, all scheduled passenger airline service that formerly operated from William P. Hobby Airport, HOU, moved to Houston Intercontinental Airport, the airport’s original name. 

The airport's IATA code of IAH derived from the stylization of the airport's name as "Intercontinental Airport of Houston.” 

Houston Intercontinental Airport was renamed George Bush Intercontinental Airport in 1997, after George H. W. Bush, the 41st President of the U.S. 

While the pandemic led to travel declines, in 2019 the airport provided nonstop service to 187 destinations—including 118 domestic destinations and 69 direct and nonstop international destinations. Those numbers are expected to return as travel rebounds in Houston due to an increase in travel confidence because of the accessibility to the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Employees celebrated in the terminals with passengers. And Mayor Sylvester Turner joined in the celebration via Twitter. "Happy birthday @iah! As one of two five-star airports, I appreciate everyone who works to ensure everyone is welcomed. The best is still to come," the Mayor said in a tweet. 

Passengers will find even more amenities and services once the new Mickey Leland International Terminal opens with a modernized ticketing and arrivals hall and will fully support post-pandemic growth in international traffic at the airport, address capacity constraints in the central terminal area, and improve baggage handling system capacity and reliability challenges. Additional international gates will accommodate continued airline growth. 

Happy 52nd birthday Bush Airport!