Southwest Airlines Planning Houston Hobby Expansion 

The Houston City Council says it will make an initial down payment of $20 million for the airport upgrade.

Credit: Joe Pries

Southwest Airlines wants to add more gates to Houston Hobby Airport (HOU), from which it launched international flights in 2015 after building a new terminal.

Southwest turned the domestic-only airport into one with international flights to Latin America when the airline largely financed—providing two-thirds of funding—and led construction efforts on a $156 million five-gate international terminal. Southwest currently uses four of the five international gates while one is in common use.  

Now, Southwest is proposing to add seven more gates at HOU, six of which it will use for domestic flights, while one will be a common-use international gate, according to the Houston City Council.

In a City Council meeting earlier this month, a summary of which was published by the council, it was revealed that Southwest has plans to lead construction efforts on a $250 million expansion of HOU. The council is proposing to allocate $20 million to Dallas Love Field (DAL)-based Southwest so the carrier can begin developing a road map for the HOU expansion.

Southwest will “plan, design and construct seven new gates” and relevant support infrastructure, including passenger loading bridges and aircraft parking positions, in HOU’s west concourse, the City Council stated in the summary. 

The council said the City of Houston will soon appropriate $20 million under a memorandum of agreement with Southwest “in order to allow Southwest to begin planning and design efforts, to prepare a project definition manual for the expansion, and to begin construction planning efforts.”

The council said the city plans to allocate “additional funds” to the project later this year. The council’s summary of the March meeting did not include details on how much money Southwest will contribute to the expansion project.