William P. Hobby Airport
|Owner||City of Houston|
|Operator||Houston Airport System|
|Focus city for||Southwest Airlines|
|Elevation AMSL||46 ft / 14 m|
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 airport until Houston Intercontinental Airport, now George Bush Intercontinental Airport, opened in 1969. Hobby closed after the opening of Houston Intercontinental; after several years it re-opened and became a secondary airport for domestic airline service and a center for corporate and private aviation.
Houston Hobby is an operating base for Southwest Airlines, which has international and domestic flights from HOU. Houston Hobby is the fifth largest airport in Southwest's network as of December 2017. Southwest opened its first international terminal at Houston Hobby, and began service from Houston Hobby to Mexico and Central and South America on October 15, 2015.
The airport covers 1,304 acres (528 ha) and has four runways; however, as of February 1, 2020, one of the four runways, runway 17-35, is permanently closed. Its original art deco terminal building, the first passenger airline terminal in Houston, now houses the 1940 Air Terminal Museum.
Hobby Airport opened in 1927 as a private landing field in a 600-acre (240 ha) pasture known as W.T. Carter Field. In the 1930s it 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 a new air terminal and hangar in 1940.
The first three Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) training classes were held at the Houston Municipal Airport in 1943.
In June 1948 Braniff International Airways began international flights from Houston, Douglas DC-4 and DC-6s to South America via Cuba and Panama. In the June 1948 timetable, the airline had two flights a week to Havana, Cuba - Panama City, Panama (via Balboa, Canal Zone) - Guayaquil, Ecuador - Lima, Peru and a third flight that skipped Guayaquil. In 1949 Braniff flew direct via Lima to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and La Paz, Bolivia. In 1950 Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) began nonstop Douglas DC-4 service to Mexico City. On October 1, 1950 Chicago and Southern Air Lines began flying new Lockheed Constellations nonstop to St. Louis and direct to Chicago Midway Airport. Chicago & Southern flew nonstop to New Orleans, the sole purpose being to connect to 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 then have local traffic rights between Houston and New Orleans. In 1953 Chicago & Southern (C&S) was acquired by and merged into Delta Air Lines, giving Delta access to Houston for the first time. In 1954 Delta, operating as "Delta C&S", was flying a daily Convair 340 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 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 west of Colorado. Later in 1957, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines started Douglas DC-7C flights to Amsterdam via Montreal. In 1958 Delta was operating daily nonstop Douglas DC-7s to New York City and weekly DC-7s direct to Caracas, Venezuela via New Orleans (Delta called this latter service the "El Petrolero") while Eastern Douglas DC-7s and Lockheed Constellations flew nonstop to New York City.
Houston's first scheduled jets were Delta Douglas DC-8s nonstop to New York in December 1959 (Cearley says they began on December 1). Braniff International introduced Boeing 707s in April 1960, nonstop to Dallas Love Field and direct to Chicago O'Hare Airport; Braniff Lockheed L-188 Electras flew nonstop to Chicago Midway Airport and Dallas Love Field, and direct to Denver, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Kansas City and Lubbock. In June 1960 Eastern Airlines Douglas DC-8s flew nonstop to New York City Idlewild Airport and to Atlanta, in addition to Lockheed L-188 Electras nonstop to Washington D.C. National Airport with one-stop Electras to Newark. In July 1960 KLM introduced Douglas DC-8 flights to Amsterdam via Montreal before moving to Houston Intercontinental Airport (now George Bush Intercontinental Airport), where they remain today with nonstop Boeing 747-400s to Amsterdam. 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 introduce Convair 880 flights nonstop to Chicago O'Hare Airport, St. Louis and New Orleans from Houston in addition to its service to New York City.
In June 1961 National Airlines Douglas DC-8s and Continental 707s began flying nonstop to Los Angeles, and National Electras flew nonstop to Las Vegas, San Diego and San Francisco. These were Houston's first nonstops beyond El Paso. In 1963 Continental Vickers Viscounts flew Houston-Austin-San Angelo-Midland/Odessa-El Paso-Tucson-Phoenix-Los Angeles, and Viscounts flew direct to Lubbock and Amarillo. In summer 1965 American Airlines had one jet flight a day from Hobby, a Boeing 707 flying Houston-San Antonio-El Paso-Phoenix-Oakland-San Francisco. Eastern Boeing 727-100s flew nonstop to Washington D.C. Dulles Airport, New Orleans and Corpus Christi and direct to New York Newark Airport and Boston. Eastern Boeing 720s flew nonstop to New York JFK Airport, Atlanta, New Orleans and San Antonio and direct to Boston and Philadelphia. By 1966 Houston-based Trans-Texas Airways (TTa) had introduced Douglas DC-9-10s with nonstop flights to Dallas Love Field, Corpus Christi and Baton Rouge and direct to New Orleans. In 1966 Braniff was operating flights via interchange agreements with both Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) and United Airlines from Hobby. The service with Pan Am flew to London, England and Frankfurt, Germany daily with Boeing 707s via at Dallas Love Field and Chicago O'Hare Airport. The joint operation with United was Boeing 720s twice daily Houston-Dallas-Denver-Seattle and Houston-Dallas-Denver-Portland, OR-Seattle. The same year, Braniff BAC One-Elevens flew nonstop to Dallas Love Field, Fort Worth (via Greater Southwest International Airport), Tulsa and Corpus Christi and direct to Chicago O'Hare Airport, Minneapolis/St. Paul, St. Louis and Wichita.
Besides the Braniff/Pan Am and KLM services to Europe, the airport had other long flights: Braniff was flying nonstop from Hobby to Panama City, Panama with Boeing 707s and Boeing 720s in the late 1960s. Braniff's April 1969 timetable shows nonstop 707s to Hawaii but flights from Houston to Hawaii didn't actually start until September 1, after the move to IAH. (Hobby's 7600-ft runways would have been shortish for a 707 nonstop to Hawaii.)
Houston Intercontinental Airport (IAH), now George Bush Intercontinental Airport, opened in June 1969; the airlines moved to Intercontinental and Hobby was left with no scheduled passenger service. The Civil Aeronautics Administration recommended years earlier that Houston plan to replace Hobby.
The first airline to resume passenger flights was Houston Metro Airlines, a commuter airline, which in early 1970 was flying "cross town" de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otters between Hobby and Houston Intercontinental Airport (IAH), 14 weekday round trips.
Jet airline service resumed on November 14, 1971 when Southwest Airlines operating as an intrastate airline began nonstop Boeing 737-200s to Dallas Love Field (DAL) and San Antonio (Southwest had initially launched service between Intercontinental Airport and Dallas Love Field before serving Hobby). Both Braniff International and Texas International resumed jet service into Hobby with nonstops to Dallas in competition with Southwest.
By fall 1979 Braniff and Texas International had dropped the airport, but two other jet airlines, Hughes Airwest and Ozark Air Lines, had joined Southwest at Hobby, with Southwest operating Boeing 727-200s nonstop to Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas Love Field, Harlingen, Lubbock, San Antonio and its first destination outside Texas, New Orleans. Hughes Airwest (owned by Howard Hughes) was flying nonstop to Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tucson and direct to Burbank (now Bob Hope Airport) and Orange County (now John Wayne Airport) while Ozark was flying nonstop to its hub in St. Louis; both airlines flew McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30s. Hughes Airwest was acquired by and merged into Republic Airlines which in 1983 had a focus city at Hobby with McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30s, DC-9-50s and MD-80s nonstop to Chicago O'Hare Airport (ORD), Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), Detroit, Las Vegas, Memphis, New Orleans and Phoenix. By 1984 another airline flew nonstop Hobby to St. Louis: Air 1 Boeing 727-100s. A number of commuter airlines were flying from Hobby to smaller cities in Texas and Louisiana, including Chaparral Airlines, Commutair, Eagle Commuter, Hammonds Air Service, Metroplex Airlines and Tejas Airlines.
In 1987 Continental Airlines had a "dual hub", a hub at Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and one at Hobby. In February 1987 Continental had nonstops from Hobby to Austin, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York LaGuardia Airport, San Antonio and Washington D.C. National Airport. Nonstop "cross town" shuttle service was also being flown between HOU and IAH with Douglas DC-9-10s by Emerald Air operating as the "Houston Proud Express" or Continental with these flights using "CO" flight numbers with seven round trips a day. CO one-stops flew from Hobby to Bozeman, MT, Orlando, Sacramento and Tucson. Continental was operating up to 37 departures a day from HOU with Boeing 727-100s, 727-200s, 737-200s, 737-300s, Douglas DC-9-10s and McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30s. The airline shut down its hub 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.
In fall 1991 the OAG listed main line flights to Hobby on American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines, Trans World Airlines (TWA) and United Airlines in addition to Southwest. Other airlines jets at Hobby in 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-9s between HOU and IAH), the original Frontier Airlines, Muse Air, People Express, Republic Airlines and TranStar Airlines.Alaska Airlines also served Hobby in 1990 via an interchange agreement with American Airlines which enabled direct Boeing 727-200s to Anchorage and Fairbanks via Dallas/Ft. Worth and Seattle. At one point, Continental Airlines was operating Boeing 737-300s between Hobby and Houston Intercontinental and flying nonstop HOU to its Newark hub. In 2008 the airport handled 8.8 million passengers. Only domestic US destinations and international destinations with border preclearance were being served, but in fall 2015 Southwest opened a new international terminal allowing it to fly to foreign citiess.
The headquarters for TranStar Airlines (formerly Muse Air before this new start up air carrier was acquired by Southwest Airlines) were at the airport. Muse Air followed by TranStar operated a hub at Hobby flying McDonnell Douglas MD-80s, DC-9-50s and DC-9-30s nonstop 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) with the latter then changing its name to Texas International Airlines. Trans-Texas followed by Texas International operated a hub at the airport as well. Pioneer and Texas International merged with Continental Airlines, Pioneer in 1955 and Texas International in 1982. Continental continued to use the former Texas International maintenance base at Hobby after the merger.
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 José, 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.
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 later 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 fight 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.
William P. Hobby Airport has a single terminal with two concourses (one domestic and one international) and 30 overall gates. The domestic concourse, which has various retail shops and restaurants, opened in 2003 and replaced the original three concourses dating back to the 1950s. It also includes an interfaith chapel. The international concourse opened on October 15, 2015.
In February 2020, Hobby Airport became the first airport in Texas to have full biometric entry and exit for passengers who are traveling internationally.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas, or METRO, stops at Curbzone 13.
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.
Taxis are available at Curb Zone 3. Lyft and Uber are available at Curb Zone 5.
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.
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|American Eagle||Dallas/Fort Worth|||
|Delta Air Lines||Atlanta|||
|JSX||Dallas-Love (begins November 20, 2020)|||
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Seasonal: Orange County, Wichita (begins November 23, 2020)
|2||Atlanta, Georgia||296,240||Delta, Southwest|
|5||New Orleans, Louisiana||198,380||Southwest|
|6||Las Vegas, Nevada||170,680||Southwest|
|7||Los Angeles, California||162,530||Southwest|
|8||Phoenix-Sky Harbor, Arizona||151,960||Southwest|