Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) broke ground Monday on a new international terminal at William P. Hobby Airport (HOU), marking the official start of construction on the $156 million project.
Once completed, the five-gate facility will accommodate regional international flights for Southwest Airlines, with service reaching destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico, and the northern cities of South America.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker, as well as local and state dignitaries, joined Southwest Airlines Employees in the brief ceremony before work immediately began.
"Establishing international air service at William P. Hobby Airport will benefit Houston passengers in a variety of different ways, including increasing competition, boosting the local economy, and strengthening the ties that already exist with our friends in Latin America," says Houston Mayor Annise Parker. "And perhaps the best news of all, it comes at no expense to the Houston taxpayer."
"With this new international terminal, we are not only literally breaking ground at Hobby Airport, we are charting new territory for our Company and for low-cost and high-value air travel," said Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest Airlines. "This will be Southwest's first international terminal in our 43-year history, and we look forward to bringing lower fares and more international flights to a city that could benefit from increased competition."
A 2012 study commissioned by the Houston Airport System indicates that the new terminal will generate more than 10,000 jobs across the Greater Houston metropolitan area and will provide an economic impact of $1.6 billion. The study estimates that the terminal will bring in an additional 1 million passengers a year to Hobby Airport.
The terminal project, fully funded by Southwest Airlines, includes a new five-gate international terminal, expansion of the existing security checkpoint, and upgrades to the Southwest Airlines ticketing counter area.
"We will give Customers a modern terminal with an open, airy design and expanded security checkpoint to make the entire travel experience as easy and stress-free as we endeavor with every flight," said Kelly.
In support of the project, and in anticipation of the expected increase in passenger traffic, the Houston Airport System will be making significant investments of its own, constructing a new multi-level parking garage and making improvements to the existing roadway system.
"The partnership that exists between Southwest Airlines and the City of Houston dates back to the earliest days of the company," says Houston Aviation Director Mario C. Diaz. "It's a partnership that was incredibly beneficial to both sides in the 20th century, and now it's poised to reach even greater heights in the 21st century."
Southwest Airlines anticipates its first international flights out of Houston Hobby's new international terminal will begin in late 2015 to destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico, and the northern cities of South America. Please visit HOUHobby.com for the latest project information and swamedia.com, the digital newsroom for Southwest Airlines.
ABOUT SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO.
In its 43rd year of service, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) continues to differentiate itself from other carriers with exemplary Customer Service delivered by more than 45,000 Employees to more than 100 million Customers annually. Southwest is the nation's largest carrier in terms of originating domestic passengers boarded, and including wholly-owned subsidiary, AirTran Airways, operates the largest fleet of Boeing aircraft in the world to serve 97 destinations in 41 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and six near-international countries. Southwest is one of the most honored airlines in the world, known for its triple bottom line approach that takes into account the carrier's performance and productivity, the importance of its People and the communities it serves, and its commitment to efficiency and the planet. The 2012 Southwest Airlines One Report™ can be found at southwest.com/citizenship.
From its first flights on June 18, 1971, Southwest Airlines launched an era of unprecedented affordability in air travel quantified by the U.S. Department of Transportation as "The Southwest Effect," a lowering of fares and increase in passenger traffic wherever the carrier serves. On every flight, Southwest offers Customers the first two pieces of checked luggage (weight and size limitations apply) and all ticket changes without additional fees. Southwest's all Boeing fleet consistently offers leather seating and the comfort of full-size cabins, many of which are equipped with satellite-based WiFi connectivity and a new, sustainable cabin interior. With 40 consecutive years of profitability, the People of Southwest operate more than 3,200 flights a day and serve communities around 86 airports in Southwest's network of domestic destinations. Southwest Airlines' frequent flights and low fares are available only at southwest.com.
AirTran Airways, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Southwest Airlines Co., offers coast-to-coast and near-international service with nearly 500 flights a day to 47 destinations. The carrier's high-quality product includes assigned seating and Business Class. As Southwest continues to integrate AirTran's People, places, and planes into Southwest Airlines, Customers of both carriers may book flights at airtran.com and exchange earned loyalty points between both AirTran's A+ Rewards® and Southwest's Rapid Rewards® for reward travel on either airline.
ABOUT HOUSTON AIRPORT SYSTEM
The Houston Airport System (HAS) served more than 50 million passengers in 2012, generating an annual economic impact of $27.5 billion to the Houston metropolitan region. Representing one of the largest airport system's in the United States, HAS relies heavily on the presence of William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) in accommodating those passengers looking to take advantage of low-cost airfare. Hobby Airport reached all-time highs in overall passenger totals in each of the last three years, thanks in large part to expanded service options brought about through its partnership with Southwest Airlines. For more information, visit fly2houston.com
SOURCE Southwest Airlines