William P. Hobby Airport has opened a new international concourse in a bid to bring back the daily international air service at the airport.
The new 280,000ft² complex includes a five-gate concourse equipped with self-tagging kiosks to accelerate the check-in process, Federal Inspection Station, Southwest Airlines ticketing hall and expanded security checkpoint.
Additionally, the customs facilities at the terminal will include 14 Automated Passport Control and six Global Entry kiosks to simplify US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) screening and baggage processing for arriving international passengers.
The new terminal will have the Southwest Airlines function at four of the gates, operating between Hobby Airport and destinations including Cancún, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta and San Jose del Cabo/Los Cabos in Mexico, San Jose and Liberia in Costa Rica, Belize City, Belize and Montego Bay, Jamaica.
The new concourse, gate area and Federal Inspections Services (FIS) facility was funded by an investment of about $156m from the Southwest Airlines.
The airlines will offer daily scheduled nonstop operations to Liberia and Montego Bay from1 November.
The new facility is expected to enable it to serve up to 7,500 international passengers and 25 departing flights per day, according to the airline.
Southwest Airlines expects to offer nonstop daily air service to nine different destinations across Latin America and the Caribbean by the end of this year from the new facility.
Houston Aviation director Mario C. Diaz said: "Someone coming to Hobby Airport for the first time in five years might not recognise where they are.
"This facility has been completely transformed, and is a testimony to all that can come from a successful public-private partnership."
The airport invested over $100m to enable projects to set off the new concourse and prepare for the projected increase in the passenger capacity.
Image: Southwest Airlines funded the project with over $156m investment. Photo: courtesy of fly2houston.com