Houston's Big Airport To Undergo Big Changes

United Airlines VP & COO Pete McDonald
Intercontinental Airport is undergoing a massive renovation. The joint venture is between the Houston Airport System and United Airlines. Phase 1 of the $1 billion makeover will be completed next year.

Ground was broken on Phase 1 of a three-phase redevelopment project. The $160 million renovation will create a new Terminal B south concourse dedicated to regional jet operations.  

Mario Diaz is the director of aviation for the Houston Airport System.

"It's clear, that an aesthetically appealing terminal is important, and that's why the work that we commence today is and will make a difference to the importance of the flying public. And it requires that we make the investments that are so needed in order to complete the process and the trip for the passenger."

United Continental Holdings is a major player in the terminal renovation. Pete McDonald is United Airlines executive veepr and chief operations officer. He says since Houston is the airline's largest hub city, Terminal B was in need of a massive makeover.

"This project will enable us to increase its size, improve the concessions, improve the efficiency for us, gives us the opportunity to expand in the future. The 787 is coming to United mid-year, and one of our first routes will be Houston-Auckland, which we're very excited about."

He says the investment in the Houston hub will allow the airline to accommodate more customers and more aircraft types, provide new amenities for travelers, and improve efficiencies. The event marks the first ground breaking for the new United. Kay Gebo with United says the employment rolls will increase significantly:

"There are gonna be about 600 jobs created from a construction perspective, and we're engaging with a lot of the contractors here in the Houston community, and we're dealing with a lot of contractors for the first time, with the new United. So we're very excited about it."

PH: "When it is all said and done, what's it going to mean as far as the terminal?"

Gebo:  "The terminal itself, will be much easier to navigate, and it'll be much larger than the existing facility. So it will be great for our customers, about 13,000 square feet of construction space, which is about a 500 percent increase over our current facility."

Mayor Annise Parker remembers landing at Terminal B in 1969.

"It was a great airport in 1969, but it definitely needed an upgrade. This terminal is gonna come into the modern era, it will have all the amenities that the traveling public wants. A lot more space, a lot more availability of concessionaires. So that if you're in the airport for a while, your dining opportunities and so forth, will be so much better."

Phase 1 is expected to be completed sometime next year, and officials say travelers should not be delayed because of the
renovations.

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Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...