Southwest Airlines chief executive Gary Kelly declared “2015 is the year of Houston,” on Thursday as the carrier gave the media a sneak peak of its new international concourse at Houston Hobby.
The Dallas-based carrier will open the five-gate concourse with a brand new customs facility on October 15 with 6 daily flights to Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, Cancun and San Jose, Costa Rica and Belize City, Belize. Daily flights to Montego Bay, Jamaica and Liberia will begin on November 1.
“Our customers in Dallas will be able to have great international service on a one-stop basis through Houston,” Kelly said, noting that international service is prohibited at Dallas Love Field through the Wright Amendment Compromise Agreement.
The airline received its certificate of occupancy for the new facility on Wednesday.
“It’s a $146 million terminal and it’s being delivered on time and on budget,” said Southwest vice president of airport affairs Bob Montgomery.
The city of Houston also spent $100 million on more parking spaces, roadways and signage for Houston Hobby airport. The first phase of the new parking garage, which adds 4,200 spaces to the airport, is scheduled to open by Thanksgiving.
City officials expect that the new concourse will bring in an additional 778,835 passengers per year in the next three years. After 2018, they estimate an increase of 1.3 million passengers annually.
Kelly said Southwest estimates it can operate 25 daily flights out of the new concourse so there is room to expand.
”If we fill up the five-gate terminal, there is absolutely interest with the current Houston leadership that we could expand this terminal further,” Kelly said. “It could at least double, maybe more.”