William P. Hobby Airport

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William P. Hobby Airport
Houston Hobby
George Bush Intercontinental Airport (logo).svg


HOU is located in Texas
Location of the William P. Hobby Airport
Owner City of Houston
Operator Houston Airport System
Serves Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land
Location Houston, Texas (United States)
Focus city for Southwest Airlines
Elevation AMSL 46 ft / 14 m
Coordinates 29°38′44″N 95°16′44″W / 29.64556°N 95.27889°W / 29.64556; -95.27889Coordinates: 29°38′44″N 95°16′44″W / 29.64556°N 95.27889°W / 29.64556; -95.27889
Website http://www.fly2houston.com/hobby
FAA airport diagram
FAA airport diagram
Direction Length Surface
ft m
4/22 7,602 2,317 Concrete
12L/30R 5,148 1,569 Concrete
12R/30L 7,602 2,317 Asphalt
17/35 6,000 1,829 Asphalt/Concrete
Statistics (2013)
Aircraft operations[1] 208,411
General aviation 54,207
Air carrier/taxi 151,337
Passengers 11,109,449

William P. Hobby Airport (IATA: HOUICAO: KHOUFAA LID: HOU) is a public airport in Houston, Texas, 7 miles (11 km) from downtown Houston.[3] Hobby is Houston's oldest commercial airport and was its primary commercial airport until Houston Intercontinental Airport, now George Bush Intercontinental Airport, opened in 1969. After the opening of Intercontinental, Hobby became a secondary airport for domestic airline service as well as a regional center for corporate and private aviation.

Houston is a focus city for Southwest Airlines, and was the seventh-largest city in Southwest's network as of 2013. Southwest is currently constructing its first international terminal at Hobby, and plans to begin service from Hobby to Mexico and Central and South America in 2015.[4]

The airport covers 1,304 acres (528 ha) and has four runways. Its original art deco terminal building, which was the first passenger airline terminal in Houston, now houses the 1940 Air Terminal Museum.


The 1940 Air Terminal Museum, originally an air terminal opened in 1940

Hobby Airport opened in 1927 as a private landing field in a 600-acre (240 ha) pasture known as W.T. Carter Field. The airfield was served by Braniff and Eastern Airlines. The site was acquired by the city of Houston and was named Houston Municipal Airport in 1937.[5] The airport was renamed Howard R. Hughes Airport in 1938. Howard Hughes was responsible for several improvements to the airport, including its first control tower, built in 1938.[5] The airport's name changed back to Houston Municipal because Hughes was still alive at the time and regulations did not allow federal improvement funds for an airport named after a living person.

The city of Houston opened and dedicated a new air terminal and hangar in 1940.

In 1950 Pan Am started a DC-4 nonstop to Mexico City. In 1954 an expanded terminal building opened to support the 53,640 airline flights that carried 910,047 passengers.[6] The airport was renamed Houston International Airport the same year.

The April 1957 Official Airline Guide shows 26 weekday departures on Eastern, 20 Braniff (plus four departures a week to/from South America), nine Continental, nine Delta, nine Trans-Texas, four National, two Pan American and one American. There were nonstops to New York and Washington, but not to Chicago or Denver or anywhere west of there. Later in 1957 KLM Royal Dutch Airlines started Douglas DC-7C flights to Amsterdam via Montreal. KLM then introduced Douglas DC-8 jets from Hobby before moving to Houston Intercontinental Airport (now George Bush Intercontinental Airport), where they remain today with Boeing 747-400s nonstop to Amsterdam.[7]

In 1967 the airport was renamed after former Texas governor William P. Hobby.

Houston Intercontinental Airport, now George Bush Intercontinental Airport, opened in 1969 because of expansion limitations at Hobby, and all airlines at Hobby moved there. The Civil Aeronautics Administration recommended years earlier that Houston plan to replace Hobby.[8]

TranStar Airlines (Muse Air) corporate headquarters were at the airport.[9]

The Hobby Airport terminal

Airline flights resumed at Hobby in 1971. In 2008 the airport handled 8.8 million passengers.[10] Only US destinations and international destinations with border preclearance are served currently, but, starting in 2015, Southwest will open a new international terminal allowing it to fly to international destinations.[11]

International flights[edit]

The interior of the airport terminal

In May 2011 Southwest Airlines expressed interest in international flights from Hobby.[12]

On April 9, 2012, Houston Director of Aviation Mario Diaz announced support of international flights from Hobby after multiple studies of the economic impact on the entire city of Houston. On this day Southwest Airlines also debuted its new campaign, called Free Hobby. Supporters are asked to sign a petition. Southwest also started a website just for supporters of international flights from Hobby, freehobbyairport.com.

United Airlines, Houston's other major carrier, which would subsequently be forced to compete with Southwest on proposed international routes, has objected to the expansion plans, citing a study which concludes that the change would cost the Houston area jobs and result in a net reduction in GRP.[13]

Houston Mayor Annise Parker backed Southwest's flight to make Hobby an international airport on May 23, 2012.[14] On May 30, 2012 Houston's city council approved Southwest's request for international flights from Hobby.[15] The groundbreaking of the terminal expansion began in September 2013.[16] Five new gates (Two arrival/departure gates and Three arrival only gates) are being added to accommodate both Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 family aircraft.[17] The expansion is estimated to cost $156 million and will be paid for by Southwest Airlines.[16] The expansion also includes constructing a new parking garage as well as a re-organization and expansion of the security checkpoint and Southwest Airlines' check-in counter. Vertical construction will officially be completed on October 15, 2015 and Southwest will launch international flights that same day. [18]


Hobby Airport handles domestic service for six commercial airlines and is an international point of entry for general aviation activity between Texas and Mexico. Hobby is primarily used by low cost carriers, with legacy carriers and most larger carriers utilizing George Bush Intercontinental Airport. As of October 2013, Southwest Airlines had 157 daily nonstop flights to 43 cities from Hobby, and used 18 gates at the airport.[19]

In a survey among travelers in the United States by J.D. Power and Associates for an Aviation Week traveler satisfaction report, William P. Hobby Airport tied with Dallas Love Field as the number one small airport in the country for customer satisfaction in 2006[20][21] and ranked number one again in 2007.[22][23] Hobby ranked #2 in 2008.[24]

Southwest Airlines operated more than 80 percent of the total enplanements at Hobby in 2005 and an average of 10 flights per day per gate. Southwest Airlines plans to maintain Houston as a focus city and is looking to serve new markets from Hobby.[25]

Developments at Hobby in the 2000s (decade) include a new concourse to serve Southwest Airlines, designed by Leo A Daly[26] and the upgrade of Runway 4/22. In May 2009, a terminal renovation project was announced [27] that will update the ticket counters, lobby area, and baggage claim.

The Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center serves as the airport's ARTCC.[28]


William P. Hobby Airport consists of one Central Concourse terminal with 26 gates, all but seven used by Southwest.

The terminal includes an interfaith chapel.[29]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Airlines Destinations
American Eagle Dallas/Fort Worth
Branson Air Express
operated by Elite Airways
Delta Air Lines Atlanta
JetBlue Airways Boston, New York-JFK
Southwest Airlines Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Belize City (begins October 15, 2015), Birmingham (AL), Boston, Cancún (begins October 15, 2015), Charleston (SC), Charlotte, Chicago-Midway, Corpus Christi, Dallas–Love, Denver, El Paso, Fort Lauderdale, Greenville/Spartanburg, Harlingen, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Memphis, Mexico City (begins October 15, 2015), Midland-Odessa, Nashville, New Orleans, New York-LaGuardia, Newark, Oakland, Oklahoma City, Orange County, Orlando, Panama City (FL), Pensacola, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Puerto Vallarta (begins October 15, 2015), Raleigh/Durham, San Antonio, San Diego, San José de Costa Rica (begins October 15, 2015), San José del Cabo (begins October 15, 2015),[30] St. Louis, Tampa, Tulsa, Washington-National
Seasonal: Aruba, Fort Myers, Portland (OR), Salt Lake City, San Juan, Seattle/Tacoma, Tucson


Top destinations[edit]

Top ten busiest domestic routes out of HOU
(December 2013 – November 2014) [31]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Dallas (Love Field), TX 643,000 Southwest
2 Atlanta, GA 424,000 Delta, Southwest
3 New Orleans, LA 293,000 Southwest
4 Chicago (Midway), IL 250,000 Southwest
5 Las Vegas, NV 210,000 Southwest
6 Denver, CO 203,000 Southwest
7 Los Angeles, CA 200,000 Southwest
8 Phoenix, AZ 170,000 Southwest
9 Orlando, FL 163,000 Southwest
10 Dallas/Fort Worth, TX 143,000 American

Annual traffic[edit]

Annual passenger traffic (enplaned + deplaned) at Houston Hobby Airport, 1987 thru 2014[32]
Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers
2010 9,054,001 2000 9,105,514 1990 8,165,185
2009 8,498,441 1999 8,864,921 1989 7,947,549
2008 8,775,798 1998 8,750,439 1988 7,697,748
2007 8,819,521 1997 8,276,321 1987 7,936,186
2006 8,548,955 1996 8,387,434
2005 8,257,506 1995 8,199,157
2014 11,945,825 2004 8,290,559 1994 8,170,283
2013 11,109,449 2003 7,803,330 1993 8,462,863
2012 10,437,648 2002 8,035,727 1992 8,320,849
2011 9,843,302 2001 8,637,150 1991 7,840,673

Ground transportation[edit]

Hobby Airport Transit Center


The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas, or METRO, stops at Curbzone 13.[33]

Courtesy vans[edit]

Courtesy vans are operated by various hotels and motels in and around the Houston area. There are courtesy telephones in the baggage claim areas to request pick-up for most hotels and motels.[33]

Shuttle service[edit]

Shared-ride shuttle service is available at HOU. SuperShuttle takes reservations and picks-up travelers at their homes or businesses and transports them to the airport and vice versa. Additionally, regularly scheduled bus and shuttle service is provided by various carriers to locations from HOU to areas outside metropolitan Houston and to Galveston and College Station. These services can be found in the baggage claim area.[33]


Taxis are available at Curb Zone 3.[33]



There are several pieces located in and on the airport grounds: Artists Paul Kittleson and Carter Ernst created "Take-off," a stainless steel bird's nest showing interwoven branches created using industrial materials. The nest is 30 feet (0.0091 km) wide and is held 20 feet (6.1 m) above the ground by three steel tree trunks. The nest is depicted floating above a subtropical garden. The artists created the work to depict the spirit of Houston's industrial force along the coastal plain. "Take-off" is located at Hobby's Broadway Street entrance.[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.fly2houston.com/about-traffic-updates
  2. ^ FAA Airport Master Record for HOU (Form 5010 PDF), effective 2007-08-30
  3. ^ "Frontier Airlines to change airports in Houston." Denver Business Journal. Monday August 9, 2010. Retrieved on March 27, 2011.
  4. ^ Maxon, Terry (30 September 2013). "Southwest Airlines, Houston officials break ground on new Hobby international terminal". Dallas Morning News (blog). Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "History of Hobby Airport," Houston Airport System
  6. ^ https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/epwhe
  7. ^ timetableimages.com, KLM timetables
  8. ^ "WILLIAM P. HOBBY AIRPORT." The Handbook of Texas
  9. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. May 16, 1981. 1452. "Head Office: Hobby Airport, Houston, Texas, USA."
  10. ^ "fly2houston". Houston Airport System. 2012. Retrieved 16 April 2012. 
  11. ^ Associated, The (2012-05-31). "Southwest to offer international flights from Houston | Travel | The Seattle Times". Seattletimes.nwsource.com. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  12. ^ "Airport Director Report to The Budget and Fiscal Affairs Transportation, Technology and Infrastructure Committee Proposed International Terminal at Hobby". Houston Airport System. 16 April 2012. Retrieved 5 August 2013. 
  13. ^ "United Continental Holdings, Inc. – Investor Relations – News". Ir.unitedcontinentalholdings.com. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  14. ^ "Houston Mayor Annise Parker gives details of $100 million Hobby Airport expansion | abc13.com". Abclocal.go.com. 2012-05-23. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  15. ^    (2012-05-30). "City Council approves Hobby Airport expansion to allow Southwest international flights; United says it will cut jobs | abc13.com". Abclocal.go.com. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  16. ^ a b "Hobby International Airport is Underway: Southwest Airlines will break ground September 2013". fly2houston. Houston Airport System. 4 June 2013. Retrieved 5 August 2013. 
  17. ^ "Proposed FIS Facility". Houston Airport System. 2012-05-07. Retrieved 2013-08-05. 
  18. ^ http://www.bizjournals.com/houston/blog/2015/03/hobbys-new-international-terminal-already.html
  19. ^ Moreno, Jenalia. "More to Luv?" Houston Chronicle. January 22, 2011. Retrieved on March 7, 2011.
  20. ^ "Hobby Airport rated number one in customer satisfaction." Houston Airport System
  21. ^ Wilson, Benet. "Human Factors." Aviation Week & Space Technology 165.1 (3 July 2006): 39. Academic Search Premier. Web. 15 December 2011.
  22. ^ "A favorite among travelers again." Houston Airport System
  23. ^ Gary, Stoller. "Smaller airports have big appeal." USA Today 9 October 2007: Newspaper Source Plus. Web. 15 December 2011.
  24. ^ Gillum, Jack. "Passenger satisfaction study puts Tucson airport at bottom." Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, AZ) 21 May 2008: Newspaper Source Plus. Web. 15 December 2011.
  25. ^ "Program Overview William P. Hobby Airport," Houston Airport System
  26. ^ William P. Hobby Airport – Leo A Daly
  27. ^ "Dramatic improvements to come at Hobby," Houston Airport System
  28. ^ "KHOU," Airnav.com
  29. ^ "Interfaith Chapel" of William P. Hobby Airport. Houston Airport System
  30. ^ https://www.southwest.com/html/promotions/newservice.html
  31. ^ "RITA | BTS | Transtats". Transtats.bts.gov. Retrieved 2014-01-24. 
  32. ^ Traffic Updates. Retrieved on Mar 28, 2015.
  33. ^ a b c d "Ground Transportation." William P. Hobby Airport. Retrieved on November 22, 2008.
  34. ^ "Hobby Airport Unveils New Original Artwork." (Archive) Houston Airport System. March 25, 2010. Retrieved on March 7, 2011.

External links[edit]