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William P. Hobby Airport
Houston Hobby
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

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 (2006, 2010)
Aircraft operations (2006) 236,637
Based aircraft (2006) 292
Air carrier/taxi (2006) 154,621
Passengers (2010) 9,054,001
Source: Federal Aviation Administration[1]


William P. Hobby Airport (IATA: HOUICAO: KHOUFAA LID: HOU) is a public airport in Houston, Texas, 7 miles (11 km) from downtown Houston.[2] The airport covers 1,304 acres (528 ha) and has four runways. Hobby Airport is Houston's oldest commercial airport and was the airline airport until Houston Intercontinental Airport (now George Bush Intercontinental Airport) opened in 1969. Hobby is a secondary airport for domestic airlines and is a regional center for corporate and private aviation. The airport is home of the 1940 Air Terminal Museum in the original art deco building that was the first passenger airline terminal in Houston. It is now a focus city for Southwest Airlines. On May 30, 2012 Houston City Council approved a deal to have Southwest Airlines build a $100 million international facility at William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) and begin flights to Mexico, Central America, and South America in 2015.[3]


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 and Eastern Airlines. The site was acquired by the city of Houston and was named Houston Municipal Airport in 1937.[4] 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.[4] 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 a DC-4 nonstop to Mexico City. In 1954 an expanded terminal building opened to support the 53,640 airline flights that carried 910,047 passengers.[5] 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, nine Delta, nine Trans-Texas, four National, two Pan American and one American. There were nonstops to New York and Washington, but not to Chicago or Denver or anywhere west of there. Later in 1957 KLM Royal Dutch Airlines started Douglas DC-7C flights to Amsterdam via Montreal. KLM then introduced Douglas DC-8 jets from Hobby before moving to Houston Intercontinental Airport (now George Bush Intercontinental Airport), where they remain today with Boeing 747-400s nonstop to Amsterdam.[6]

Airport diagram for March 1962

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

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.[7]

TranStar Airlines (Muse Air) corporate headquarters were at the airport.[8]

Airline flights resumed at Hobby in 1971. In 2008 the airport handled 8.8 million passengers.[9] Only US destinations and international destinations with border preclearance are served currently, but, starting in 2015, Southwest will open a new international terminal allowing it to fly to international destinations.[10]

International flights

In May 2011 Southwest Airlines expressed interest in international flights from Hobby .[11]

On April 9, 2012 Houston Director of Aviation Mario Diaz announced support of international flights from Hobby after multiple studies of the economical 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,

United Airlines, Houston's other major carrier, who 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.[12]

Houston Mayor Annise Parker backed Southwest's flight to make Hobby an international airport on May 23, 2012.[13] On May 30, 2012 Houston's city council approved Southwest's request for international flights from Hobby.[14] The groundbreaking of the terminal expansion is expected to begin in September 2013.[15] 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.[16] The expansion is estimated to cost $156 million and will be paid for by Southwest Airlines.[15] The expansion also includes a re-organization and expansion of the security checkpoint and Southwest Airlines' check-in counter. Vertical construction is expected to be finished in September 2015, with possible international service beginning later in the year.[17]


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 has multiple low cost carrier operations, as opposed to Bush Intercontinental Airport's hub operation with United Airlines. As of May 2013, Southwest Airlines has 143 daily nonstop flights to 38 cities from Hobby, and uses 17 gates at the airport.[18]

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[19][20] and ranked number one again in 2007.[21][22] Hobby ranked #2 in 2008.[23]

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.[24]

Developments at Hobby in the 2000s (decade) include a new concourse to serve Southwest Airlines, designed by Leo A Daly[25] and the upgrade of Runway 4/22. In May 2009, a terminal renovation project was announced [26] that will update the ticket counters, lobby area, and baggage claim.

The Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center serves as the airport's ARTCC.[27]


William P. Hobby Airport consists of one Central Concourse terminal with 26 gates, all but 7 used by Southwest.

The terminal includes an interfaith chapel.[28]

Airlines and destinations

Top destinations

Top ten busiest domestic routes out of HOU
(June 2012 – May 2013) [29]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Dallas (Love Field), TX 593,000 Southwest
2 Atlanta, GA 466,000 AirTran, Delta, Southwest
3 New Orleans, LA 279,000 Southwest
4 Chicago (Midway), IL 282,000 Southwest
5 Las Vegas, NV 194,000 Southwest
6 Denver, CO 188,000 Southwest
7 Los Angeles, CA 166,000 Southwest
8 Orlando, FL 156,000 Southwest
9 Phoenix, AZ 155,000 Southwest
10 Baltimore, MD 145,000 Southwest

Ground transportation


The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas, or METRO, stops at Curbzone 13.[30]

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.[30]

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 the Houston Metropolitan area and to Galveston and College Station. These services can be found in the baggage claim area.[30]


Taxis are available at Curb Zone 3.[30]


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.[31]

Accidents and incidents

The following involved flights departing or arriving at the airport:

See also

Houston portal
Aviation portal


External links

  • Houston Airport System — William P. Hobby Airport
  • Houston Airport System — Houston Airports Today television show
  • The 1940 Air Terminal Museum at William P. Hobby Airport
  • PDF), effective July 24, 2014
  • Resources for this airport:
    • AirNav airport information for KHOU
    • ASN accident history for HOU
    • FlightAware live flight tracker
    • NOAA/NWS latest weather observations
    • SkyVector aeronautical chart for KHOU
    • FAA current HOU delay information
  • Gonzalez, J. R. "Houston Chronicle. May 10, 2010.
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