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.