Air Transport World

Houston airports growing.

$1.4 billion is being spent to provide room for Continental to grow at Intercontinental and Southwest to expand at Hobby

Working with the dominant carriers at its two airline airports, the Houston Airport System is in the midst of a $1.4 billion program that will provide the facilities Continental Airlines needs to continue to expand its operations at George Bush Intercontinental Airport and Southwest Airlines needs at William P. Hobby Airport. Along with the city's investment, Continental is completing its own $230 million project at its largest hub.

The city is spending $1.2 billion at Intercontinental, $200 million at Hobby. Ellington Field, a reliever for Hobby, will get $25 million to rehabilitate a runway and build T-hangars. Construction there is to start late this year and be completed by early 2001.

The Houston Airport System set new passenger and freight traffic records last year, with Intercontinental handling just short of 31 million passengers and 600 million lb. of freight and Hobby serving 8.75 million travelers and 18,000 lb. of freight. Passenger totals increased 8.7% at IAH, 5.7% at Hobby. These growth rates are expected to continue through this year.

The highest rate of growth has been in international traffic at Intercontinental-up 17.8% last year-so most of the expansion is in these facilities. "We're doing some catch-up, and trying to get ahead of demand," said Richard M. Vacar, director of the Houston Airport System. "We're now doing what we should have done in the past."

The international terminal is being expanded, Terminal A's banjos replaced with finger concourses, garage parking added and a new people mover installed to first supplement, and later replace, the old underground system. …

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