Puneet Varma (Editor)

William P. Hobby Airport

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Covid-19
Owner  City of Houston
Focus city for  Southwest Airlines
Code  HOU
Phone  +1 713-640-3000
Operator  Houston Airport System
Elevation AMSL  46 ft / 14 m
Elevation  14 m
Serves  Greater Houston
William P. Hobby Airport
Location  Houston, Texas (United States)
Website  http://www.fly2houston.com/hobby
Address  7800 Airport Blvd, Houston, TX 77061, USA
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William P. Hobby Airport (IATA: HOU, ICAO: KHOU, FAA LID: HOU) is an international airport in Houston, Texas, 7 miles (11 km) from downtown Houston. 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.

Contents

Houston is a focus city for Southwest Airlines, and was the seventh-largest city in Southwest's network as of 2015. Hobby is classified as a medium-sized airport, and is currently the third-largest of this airport classification in terms of passengers (behind only Nashville and St. Louis). Southwest opened its first international terminal at Hobby, it began service from Hobby to Mexico and Central and South America on October 15, 2015.

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.

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History

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 Air Lines. The site was acquired by the city of Houston and was named Houston Municipal Airport in 1937. 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. 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.

Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), 1943

The first three Women Airforce Service Pilots training classes trained at the Houston Municipal Airport in 1943

International and domestic services during the 1940s and 1950s

In 1948, Braniff International Airways was flying its first international service from Houston with Douglas DC-4 and DC-6 propliner service to South America via Cuba and Panama. According to the June 4, 1948 Braniff timetable, the airline was operating three international flights a week from Hobby. Routings included Houston - Havana, Cuba - Panama City, Panama (via Balboa, Canal Zone) - Guayaquil, Ecuador - Lima, Peru with Havana, Balboa, C.Z., and Lima being served three times a week while Guayaquil was served twice a week. By 1949, Braniff had extended its international service from Houston with direct flights via Lima to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and La Paz, Bolivia. In 1950, Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) initiated nonstop Douglas DC-4 service to Mexico City. On October 1, 1950, Chicago and Southern Air Lines began flying new Lockheed Constellation propliners nonstop to St. Louis on a daily basis with direct one stop service to Chicago Midway Airport. At this same time, Chicago & Southern was operating nonstop service between the airport and New Orleans with the sole purpose of these flights being the ability to connect passengers to and from the airline's daily Douglas DC-4 "Caribbean Comet" flights between New Orleans and Havana, Cuba; Kingston, Jamaica and Caracas, Venezuela as Chicago & Southern did not have local traffic rights between Houston and New Orleans at the time. By 1953, Chicago & Southern (C&S) had been acquired by and merged into Delta Air Lines thus giving Delta access to Houston for the first time. In 1954, Delta, operating as "Delta C&S", was flying daily international service with a "Super" Convair 340 on a routing of Houston - New Orleans - Havana, Cuba - Port au Prince, Haiti - Ciudad Trujillo (now Santo Domingo), Dominican Republic - San Juan, Puerto Rico. Also in 1954 an expanded terminal building opened to support the 53,640 airline flights that carried 910,047 passengers. The airport was renamed Houston International Airport the same year.

The April 1957 Official Airline Guide (OAG) lists 26 weekday departures on Eastern, 20 on Braniff (plus four departures a week to/from South America), nine on Continental Airlines, nine on Delta Air Lines, nine on Trans-Texas Airways, four on National Airlines, two on Pan American World Airways and one on American Airlines. There were nonstops to New York City and Washington D.C., but not to Chicago or Denver or anywhere further west of Colorado at this time. Later in 1957, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines started Douglas DC-7C propliner flights to Amsterdam via an intermediate stop in Montreal. In 1958, Delta was operating daily nonstop Douglas DC-7 service to New York City as well as weekly DC-7 service direct to Caracas, Venezuela via an intermediate stop in New Orleans (with this service being called the "El Petrolero" by the airline) while Eastern was operating Douglas DC-7 and Lockheed Constellation aircraft nonstop to New York City as well.

The jet age arrives in Houston

Braniff International introduced Boeing 707 jet service in April 1960 nonstop to Dallas Love Field with direct one stop jet service to Chicago O'Hare Airport and was also operating Lockheed L-188 Electra propjet service nonstop to Chicago Midway Airport and Dallas Love Field with direct flights to Denver, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Kansas City and Lubbock being operated with the Electra. In June 1960, Eastern Airlines was operating Douglas DC-8 jets nonstop to New York City Idlewild Airport (which would become JFK Airport) and also to Atlanta in addition to flying Lockheed L-188 Electra propjets nonstop to Washington D.C. National Airport (which would become Ronald Reagan Airport) with direct one stop Electra service to Newark. KLM then introduced jet service as well in July 1960 with Douglas DC-8 flights to Amsterdam via Montreal from the airport before moving to Houston Intercontinental Airport (now George Bush Intercontinental Airport), where they remain today with nonstop flights to Amsterdam operated with Boeing 747-400 wide body jetliners. On May 15, 1960, Delta Air Lines operated the world's first Convair 880 scheduled passenger flight nonstop to New York City Idlewild Airport from Hobby. Delta would then introduce Convair 880 jetliner flights nonstop to Chicago O'Hare Airport, St. Louis and New Orleans from Houston in addition to its service to New York City. The jet age had arrived at Houston's primary airport.

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. Continental was also operating British-manufactured Vickers Viscount four engine propjets into Hobby at this time with a daily round trip routing of Houston-Austin-San Angelo-Midland/Odessa-El Paso-Tucson-Phoenix-Los Angeles in addition to other direct, no change of plane Viscount flights to Lubbock and Amarillo. In the summer of 1965, American Airlines was operating only one jet flight a day from the airport with a Boeing 707 flying a multi-stop routing of Houston-San Antonio-El Paso-Phoenix-Oakland-San Francisco. Also during the summer of 1965, Eastern was operating Boeing 727-100 jetliners into the airport with nonstop service to Washington D.C. Dulles Airport, New Orleans and Corpus Christi with direct service to New York Newark Airport and Boston. At this same time, Eastern was flying Boeing 720 jets nonstop to New York JFK Airport, Atlanta, New Orleans and San Antonio with direct service to Boston and Philadelphia. By 1966, Houston-based Trans-Texas Airways (TTa) had introduced Douglas DC-9-10 twin jets with nonstop flights to Dallas Love Field, Corpus Christi and Baton Rouge as well as direct one stop jet service to New Orleans. Also in 1966, Braniff was operating flights from via a cooperative interchange agreements with both Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) and United Airlines from Hobby. The joint international service with Pan Am was operated to London, England and Frankfurt, Germany on a daily basis with Boeing 707 jets via intermediate stops at Dallas Love Field and Chicago O'Hare Airport. The joint operation with United provided same plane thru service twice daily between Houston and the Pacific Northwest flown with Boeing 720 jetliners on round trip routings of Houston-Dallas-Denver-Seattle and Houston-Dallas-Denver-Portland, OR-Seattle. The same year, Braniff was serving the airport with British Aircraft Corporation BAC One-Eleven jets with nonstop flights to Dallas Love Field, Fort Worth (via Greater Southwest International Airport), Tulsa and Corpus Christi with direct service operated to Chicago O'Hare Airport, Minneapolis/St. Paul, St. Louis and Wichita with the British-manufactured twin jet.

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

Besides the joint Braniff/Pan Am and KLM international services to Europe, the airport 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 of Hawaii with Boeing 707-320C intercontinental jetliners. Braniff was also operating nonstop flights from Hobby to Panama City, Panama with Boeing 707 and Boeing 720 jets during the late 1960s.

Houston Intercontinental Airport (IAH), now George Bush Intercontinental Airport, opened in 1969 because of expansion limitations at Hobby. All airlines serving Hobby then moved their operations to Intercontinental and Hobby was left without any scheduled passenger airline service. The Civil Aeronautics Administration recommended years earlier that Houston plan to replace Hobby.

Resumption of airline service

Airline flights resumed at Hobby on November 14, 1971 when Southwest Airlines operating as an intrastate air carrier began nonstop Boeing 737-200 flights to Dallas Love Field (DAL) and San Antonio (SAT) (Southwest had initially launched service between Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and Dallas Love Field prior to serving Hobby). Both Braniff International and Texas International then resumed jet service into Hobby with nonstop flights to Dallas in fierce competition with Southwest. 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 jet 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. At this same time, Hughes Airwest (which was owned by Howard Hughes at the time) was flying nonstop to Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tucson with direct one stop service to Burbank (now Bob Hope Airport) and Orange County (now John Wayne Airport) in southern California while Ozark was flying nonstop to its hub in St. Louis with both airlines operating McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 twin jets into the airport. By 1984, another airline was operating nonstop service between Hobby and St. Louis: Air 1 operating Boeing 727 jetliners. A number of commuter air carriers operating small prop and turboprop aircraft were also serving Hobby as well at this time with service to regional destinations in Texas and Louisiana. These small carriers included Chaparral Airlines, Commutair, Eagle Commuter, Hammonds Air Service, Metroplex Airlines and Tejas Airlines.

In 1987, Continental Airlines was operating a "dual hub" operation in Houston with a hub not only located at Intercontinental Airport (IAH) but also at Hobby as well. According to its February 1, 1987 system timetable, Continental was operating nonstop flights from Hobby (HOU) to Austin (AUS), Denver (DEN), Las Vegas (LAS), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), New Orleans (MSY), New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA), San Antonio (SAT) and Washington D.C. National Airport (DCA, now Reagan Airport). Nonstop "cross town" shuttle service was also being flown between HOU and IAH with Douglas DC-9-10 twin jets by Emerald Air operating as the "Houston Proud Express" on behalf of Continental with seven round trip flights a day. In addition, direct one stop flights were being operated at this same time by the airline from Hobby to Bozeman, MT (BZN), Orlando (MCO), Sacramento (SMF) and Tucson (TUS). Continental was operating up to 37 departures a day from HOU at this time with Boeing 727-100, 727-200, 737-200 and 737-300 jetliners as well as with Douglas DC-9-10 and McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 jets. However, the airline then shut down its hub operation at Hobby and was not serving the airport by the early 1990s although its regional affiliate Continental Express would return with "cross town" turboprop flights to IAH by the mid 1990s followed later by limited Continental mainline jet service.

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 jet service. Other airlines that earlier operated jet service into Hobby during the 1980s included Air Florida, Braniff, Eastern Air Lines, Emerald Air (operating independently and also on behalf of Continental Airlines as the aforementioned "Houston Proud Express" with DC-9 jets between HOU and IAH), the original Frontier Airlines (1950-1986), Muse Air, People Express, Republic Airlines (1979-1986) and TranStar Airlines. 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. 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. Only US destinations and international destinations with border preclearance were being served; however, in the fall of 2015, Southwest opened a new international terminal thus allowing it to fly to international destinations.

The corporate headquarters for TranStar Airlines (formerly Muse Air before this new start up air carrier was acquired by Southwest Airlines) were located at the airport. Muse Air followed by TranStar operated a hub at Hobby flying McDonnell Douglas MD-80, DC-9-50 and DC-9-30 jetliners with nonstop service to Austin, Brownsville, TX, Dallas Love Field, Las Vegas, Los Angeles (LAX), Lubbock, Ontario, CA, McAllen, TX, Miami, Midland/Odessa, New Orleans, Orlando, San Antonio, San Francisco, Tampa and Tulsa with direct service to San Diego and San Jose, CA at various times during the 1980s. Several other airlines were based at the airport in the past as well, including Pioneer Airlines and Trans-Texas Airways (TTa) which then changed its name to Texas International Airlines. Trans-Texas followed by Texas International operated a hub at the airport. 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 Hobby following the merger.

International service during the 1960s

Previously, KLM and Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) operated international flights from the International Building at Hobby until the late 1960s. 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. In 1969, both airlines moved to IAH and the International Building was demolished. Braniff International operated international service as well from the airport and in the spring of 1966 was operating nonstop Boeing 707 and Boeing 720 jet service twice a week to Panama City, Panama with connections in Panama to other Braniff flights to South America. Also in 1966, Braniff was operating a joint international service via an interchange agreement with Pan Am to London, England and Frankfurt, Germany on a daily basis with Boeing 707 jetliners via intermediate stops at Dallas Love Field and Chicago O'Hare Airport. Aeronaves de Mexico (now Aeromexico) served Hobby as well 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. Trans-Texas Airways also served Mexico 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 via south Texas.

Present day international service

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

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.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker backed Southwest's flight to make Hobby an international airport on May 23, 2012. On May 30, 2012 Houston's city council approved Southwest's request for international flights from Hobby. The groundbreaking of the terminal expansion began in September 2013. Five new gates (two arrival/departure gates and three arrival only gates) were added to accommodate both Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 family aircraft. The expansion was estimated to have cost $156 million and was paid for by Southwest Airlines. The expansion also included 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 was officially completed on October 15, 2015 and Southwest launched international flights that same day.

As of April 2016, Southwest was flying international service from Hobby nonstop to Aruba (AUA), Belize City (BZE), Cabo San Lucas/Los Cabos (SJD), Liberia, Costa Rica (LIR), Mexico City (MEX), Montego Bay (MBJ), Puerto Vallarta (PVR) and San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO), and was also operating nonstop to San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU).

Operations

Hobby Airport handles domestic/international service for four 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.

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 and ranked number one again in 2007. Hobby ranked #2 in 2008.

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 and grow Houston as a hub and focus city and is looking to serve new international markets from Hobby.

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

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

Terminals

William P. Hobby Airport consists of one Central Concourse terminal with 25 gates, all but seven used by Southwest. The Central Concourse has numerous retail shops and eateries, including a food court. It also includes an interfaith chapel.

An international terminal with 5 gates was opened on October 15, 2015.

Bus

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

Courtesy vans

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.

Shuttle service

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.

Taxi

Taxis are available at Curb Zone 3.

Artwork

There are several pieces located in and on the airport grounds: Artists Paul Kittleso and Carter Ernst created "Take-off," a stainless steel bird's nest showing interwoven branches created using industrial materials. The nest is 30 feet (9.1 m) 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.

References

William P. Hobby Airport Wikipedia


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