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 October 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 International Airways 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 nonstop Douglas DC-4 propliner service 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 Airlines, nine Delta Air Lines, nine Trans-Texas Airways, four National Airlines, two Pan American World Airways and one American Airlines. There were nonstops to New York and Washington, but not to Chicago or Denver or anywhere further west of Colorado. Later in 1957, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines started Douglas DC-7C propliner flights to Amsterdam via an intermediate stop in Montreal. Braniff International introduced Boeing 707 jet service in April of 1960 nonstop to Dallas Love Field with direct one stop jet service to Chicago O'Hare Airport.[7] KLM then introduced jet service as well in July of 1960 with Douglas DC-8 flights to Amsterdam via Montreal from Hobby before moving to Houston Intercontinental Airport (now George Bush Intercontinental Airport), where they remain today with Boeing 747-400s nonstop to Amsterdam.[8] In the fall of 1960, Delta Air Lines was operating Convair 880 jetliners nonstop to New York City Idlewild Airport (which would become JFK Airport), Chicago O'Hare Airport, St. Louis and New Orleans.[9] By 1962, National Airlines was operating Douglas DC-8 jet service nonstop to Los Angeles, San Francisco and New Orleans with direct one stop DC-8 flights to Miami, and by 1963 Continental Airlines was flying Boeing 720B fanjets nonstop to Los Angeles and San Antonio with direct, no change of plane jet service to El Paso and Phoenix.[10] Besides the KLM international service, Hobby had other long distance flights as well: in the spring of 1969 just a few months before the opening of Houston Intercontinental, Braniff International was operating nonstop flights several times a week to Hawaii with service to both Honolulu on Oahu and Hilo on the Big Island with Boeing 707-320 intercontinental jetliners.[11] Braniff was also providing service via a cooperative agreement in 1966 with United Airlines in order to provide same plane thru service twice daily between Houston and the Pacific Northwest with interchange flights operated with Boeing 720 jetliners on round trip routings of Houston-Dallas-Denver-Seattle and Houston-Dallas-Denver-Portland, OR-Seattle.[12]

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.[13]

TranStar Airlines (formerly Muse Air before the air carrier was acquired by Southwest Airlines) corporate headquarters were located at the airport.[14] Muse Air followed by TranStar operated a hub at Hobby flying McDonnell Douglas MD-80, McDonnell Douglas DC-9-50 and McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 jetliners with nonstop service to Austin, Brownsville, TX, Dallas Love Field, Las Vegas, Los Angeles (LAX), Lubbock, Ontario, CA, Orlando, McAllen, TX, Miami, Midland/Odessa, New Orleans, Orlando, San Antonio, San Francisco, Tampa and Tulsa, and direct to San Diego and San Jose, CA at different times during the 1980s.[15] [16] Several other airlines were based at Hobby in the past as well, including Pioneer Airlines and Trans-Texas Airways (TTa) which then changed its name to Texas International Airlines. Both Pioneer and Texas International were subsequently merged with Continental Airlines, Pioneer in 1955 and Texas International in 1982. Continental continued to use the former Texas International aircraft maintenance base at the airport.

The Hobby Airport terminal

Airline flights resumed at Hobby in 1971 when Southwest Airlines began nonstop Boeing 737-200 flights to Dallas Love Field.[17] Both Braniff International and Texas International then resumed jet service into Hobby with nonstop flights to Dallas in competition with Southwest.[18] According to the Official Airline Guide (OAG), by the fall of 1979, Braniff and Texas International had once again ceased serving the airport; however, two other airlines operating jets, Hughes Airwest and Ozark Air Lines, had joined Southwest at Hobby, with Southwest operating Boeing 727-200 jetliners into the airport at this time in addition to its 737 aircraft with nonstop flights to Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas Love Field, Harlingen, Lubbock, San Antonio and its first destination outside of the state of Texas, New Orleans.[19] At this same time, Hughes Airwest was flying nonstop to Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tucson with direct one stop service to Burbank and Orange County in southern California, and Ozark was operating nonstop to St. Louis with both airlines operating McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 twin jets into the airport while a number of commuter air carriers operating small prop and turboprop aircraft were serving Hobby as well.[20] By the fall of 1991, the OAG listed flights into Hobby operated with mainline jet aircraft by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines, Trans World Airlines (TWA) and United Airlines in addition to Southwest.[21] Other airlines that operated jet service into Hobby during the 1980s included Air Florida, Braniff, Eastern Airlines, Emerald Air (United States), the original Frontier Airlines (1950-1986), Muse Air, People Express, Republic Airlines and TranStar Airlines.[22] Alaska Airlines also served Hobby during 1990 via an interchange agreement with American Airlines which enabled single plane thru service to Alaska operated with Boeing 727-200s to Anchorage and Fairbanks via Dallas/Ft. Worth and Seattle.[23] At one point, Continental Airlines was operating Boeing 737-300 jet service on a "cross-town" route between Hobby and Houston Intercontinental as a feeder service for its IAH hub as well as flying nonstop service between HOU and its Newark hub. In 2008 the airport handled 8.8 million passengers.[24] Only US destinations and international destinations with border preclearance are served currently; however, commencing in the fall of 2015, Southwest will open a new international terminal thus allowing it to fly to international destinations.[25]

International flights[edit]

Previously, KLM and Pan American World Airways operated international flights from the International Building at Hobby. [26] In 1966, Pan Am was operating a daily Boeing 707 flight nonstop to Mexico City with continuing, no change of plane service to Guatemala City, Guatemala; San Salvador, El Salvador; Managua, Nicaragua; San Jose, Costa Rica and Panama City, Panama.[27] In 1969, both airlines moved to IAH and the International Building was demolished. [28] Braniff International operated international service as well from the airport and in the spring of 1966 was operating nonstop Boeing 707 jet service twice a week to Panama City, Panama with connections in Panama to other Braniff flights to South America.[29] Aeronaves de Mexico (now Aeromexico) also served Hobby with flights to Mexico and in the spring of 1968 was operating Douglas DC-9-10 jet service nonstop to Monterrey with continuing, no change of plane service several days a week to Guadalajara and Acapulco.[30] Trans-Texas Airways served Mexico as well and in 1968 was operating direct, no change of plane service from Hobby with Convair 600 turboprops eleven times a week to Monterrey and six times a week to Tampico and Veracruz.[31]

The interior of the airport terminal

In May 2011 Southwest Airlines expressed interest in initiating new international flights from Hobby.[32]

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.[33]

Houston Mayor Annise Parker backed Southwest's flight to make Hobby an international airport on May 23, 2012.[34] On May 30, 2012 Houston's city council approved Southwest's request for international flights from Hobby.[35] The groundbreaking of the terminal expansion began in September 2013.[36] 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.[37] The expansion is estimated to cost $156 million and will be paid for by Southwest Airlines.[36] 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. [38]


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.[39]

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[40][41] and ranked number one again in 2007.[42][43] Hobby ranked #2 in 2008.[44]

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.[45]

Developments at Hobby in the 2000s (decade) include a new concourse to serve Southwest Airlines, designed by Leo A Daly[46] and the upgrade of Runway 4/22. In May 2009, a terminal renovation project was announced [47] that will update the ticket counters, lobby area, and baggage claim.

The Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center serves as the airport's ARTCC.[48]


William P. Hobby Airport consists of one Central Concourse terminal with 26 gates, all but seven used by Southwest. An international terminal with 5 gates is under construction and will open October 15, 2015.

The terminal includes an interfaith chapel.[49]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Airlines Destinations Terminal
American Eagle Dallas/Fort Worth Domestic
Branson Air Express
operated by Elite Airways
Branson Domestic
Delta Air Lines Atlanta Domestic
JetBlue Airways Boston, New York-JFK Domestic
Southwest Airlines Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Birmingham (AL), Boston, 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, Lubbock (begins December 26, 2015),[50] Memphis, Midland-Odessa, Nashville, New Orleans, New York-LaGuardia, Newark, Oakland, Oklahoma City, Orange County, Orlando, Panama City (FL), Pensacola, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Raleigh/Durham, San Antonio, San Diego, St. Louis, Tampa, Tulsa, Washington-National
Seasonal: Fort Myers, Portland (OR), Salt Lake City, San Juan, Seattle/Tacoma, Tucson
Southwest Airlines Belize City (begins October 15, 2015), Cancún (begins October 15, 2015), Liberia (begins November 1, 2015),[51] Mexico City (begins October 15, 2015), Montego Bay (begins November 1, 2015), Puerto Vallarta (begins October 15, 2015), San José de Costa Rica (begins October 15, 2015), San José del Cabo (begins October 15, 2015),[52]
Seasonal: Aruba


Top destinations[edit]

Top ten busiest domestic routes out of HOU
(Feb 2014 – Jan 2015) [53]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Dallas (Love Field), TX 640,000 Southwest
2 Atlanta, GA 422,000 Delta, Southwest
3 New Orleans, LA 292,000 Southwest
4 Chicago (Midway), IL 250,000 Southwest
5 Las Vegas, NV 207,000 Southwest
6 Denver, CO 204,000 Southwest
7 Los Angeles, CA 203,000 Southwest
8 Phoenix, AZ 171,000 Southwest
9 Orlando, FL 163,000 Southwest
10 Dallas/Fort Worth, TX 144,000 American

Annual traffic[edit]

Annual passenger traffic (enplaned + deplaned) at Houston Hobby Airport, 1987 thru 2014[54]
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.[55]

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.[55]

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.[55]


Taxis are available at Curb Zone 3.[55]



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.[56]

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. ^ http://www.timetableimages.com, April 24, 1960 Braniff International system timetable
  8. ^ http://www.timetableimages.com, July 15, 1960 KLM system timetable
  9. ^ http://www.timetableimages.com, Oct. 30, 1960 Delta Air Lines system timetable
  10. ^ http://www.timetableimages.com, March 2, 1983 National Airlines system timetable & July 1, 1963 Continental Airlines system timetable
  11. ^ http://www.timetableimages.com, April 14, 1969 Braniff International system timetable, Mainland-Hawaii service
  12. ^ http://www.timetableimages.com, April 24, 1966 Braniff International system timetable & April 24, 1966 United Airlines system timetable
  13. ^ "WILLIAM P. HOBBY AIRPORT." The Handbook of Texas
  14. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. May 16, 1981. 1452. "Head Office: Hobby Airport, Houston, Texas, USA."
  15. ^ http://www.museair.com
  16. ^ http://www.departedflights.com, Muse Air & TranStar route maps
  17. ^ https://www.southwest.com, Press Room, Our History
  18. ^ http://www.departedflights.com, Braniff International winter 1974 system timetable & March 15, 1978 Texas International system timetable
  19. ^ http://www.departedflights.com, Nov. 15, 1979 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Houston Hobby Airport flight schedules
  20. ^ http://www.departedflights.com, Nov. 15, 1979 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Houston Hobby Airport flight schedules
  21. ^ http://www.departedflights.com, Oct. 1, 1991 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Houston Hobby Airport flight schedules
  22. ^ http://www.departed flights, April 1, 1981 & Feb. 15, 1985 Official Airline Guide (OAG) editions, Houston Hobby Airport flight schedules
  23. ^ http://www.departedflights.com, July 1, 1990 Alaska Airlines system timetable
  24. ^ "fly2houston". Houston Airport System. 2012. Retrieved 16 April 2012. 
  25. ^ Associated, The (2012-05-31). "Southwest to offer international flights from Houston | Travel | The Seattle Times". Seattletimes.nwsource.com. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  26. ^ http://www.blogsouthwest.com/flashback-fridays-early-candid-views-houston-hobby/
  27. ^ http://www.timetableimages.com, Aug. 1, 1966 Pan American system timetable
  28. ^ http://www.houstontx.gov/savvy/archives/winter07/win07_heritage.htm
  29. ^ http://www.timetableimages.com, April 24, 1966 Braniff International system timetable
  30. ^ http://www.timetableimages.com, April 28, 1968 Aeronaves de Mexico system timetable
  31. ^ http://www.timetableimages.com, August 1968 Trans-Texas Airways system timetable
  32. ^ "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. 
  33. ^ "United Continental Holdings, Inc. – Investor Relations – News". Ir.unitedcontinentalholdings.com. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  34. ^ "Houston Mayor Annise Parker gives details of $100 million Hobby Airport expansion | abc13.com". Abclocal.go.com. 2012-05-23. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  35. ^    (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. 
  36. ^ 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. 
  37. ^ "Proposed FIS Facility". Houston Airport System. 2012-05-07. Retrieved 2013-08-05. 
  38. ^ http://www.bizjournals.com/houston/blog/2015/03/hobbys-new-international-terminal-already.html
  39. ^ Moreno, Jenalia. "More to Luv?" Houston Chronicle. January 22, 2011. Retrieved on March 7, 2011.
  40. ^ "Hobby Airport rated number one in customer satisfaction." Houston Airport System
  41. ^ Wilson, Benet. "Human Factors." Aviation Week & Space Technology 165.1 (3 July 2006): 39. Academic Search Premier. Web. 15 December 2011.
  42. ^ "A favorite among travelers again." Houston Airport System
  43. ^ Gary, Stoller. "Smaller airports have big appeal." USA Today 9 October 2007: Newspaper Source Plus. Web. 15 December 2011.
  44. ^ 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.
  45. ^ "Program Overview William P. Hobby Airport," Houston Airport System
  46. ^ William P. Hobby Airport – Leo A Daly
  47. ^ "Dramatic improvements to come at Hobby," Houston Airport System
  48. ^ "KHOU," Airnav.com
  49. ^ "Interfaith Chapel" of William P. Hobby Airport. Houston Airport System
  50. ^ https://www.southwest.com/flight/view-schedule.html
  51. ^ http://www.bizjournals.com/houston/news/2015/05/13/southwest-announces-more-international-flights.html
  52. ^ https://www.southwest.com/html/promotions/newservice.html
  53. ^ "RITA | BTS | Transtats". Transtats.bts.gov. Retrieved 2014-01-24. 
  54. ^ Traffic Updates. Retrieved on Mar 28, 2015.
  55. ^ a b c d "Ground Transportation." William P. Hobby Airport. Retrieved on November 22, 2008.
  56. ^ "Hobby Airport Unveils New Original Artwork." (Archive) Houston Airport System. March 25, 2010. Retrieved on March 7, 2011.

External links[edit]