MIAMI — The international wing of Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) is planning to undergo a major renovation. The airport is looking to expand the terminal, known simply as D, to accommodate over one dozen wide-body aircraft, including four Airbus A380s.
From 12PM-6PM, terminal D is the place to be. Air China, Air France, British Airways, Emirates, KLM, Lufthansa, Qatar, Singapore, and Turkish all have flights arriving and departing in that window. The crush of activity has left the terminal increasingly cramped. Presently it can only accommodate seven wide-body aircraft at best. The number goes down when an A380 is involved. The superjumbo, operated by Lufthansa, takes up two gates, dropping the available space even further.
And that space is currently a hot commodity as Houston IAH continues to grow. Two years ago, Lufthansa started flying the Airbus A380 to Houston, and last year, Turkish Airlines and Air China started flying to Houston.
This year, 2014, is set to continue the trend. On March 30, United will add an additional frequency between Houston and Tokyo Naritia, and on April 24, the carrier will also add new nonstop service to Munich. Additionally, Korean Air will launch flights to Houston from Seoul on May 2.
Even more growth is expected down the road: Jarrett Simmons, who is on Houston Airport System’s Planning, Design, and Construction team says that two other airlines want to fly the A380 to Houston.
The dearth of wide-body gate space is not just an issue for foreign flag carriers. Hometown heavy-weight United is also running out of space to park wide-body aircraft, particularly with the larger 787s.
On the Houston Airport website, they say that “Terminal D serves as the primary global gateway facility for air travelers in the Houston region but unfortunately, it does not adequately reflect Houston’s current standing as a world leader in business and quality of life offered to its residents.”
Now, United and Houston are working together on a concept to increase the space.
Enter Terminal B and C North.
Currently, United and the Houston Airport System are renovating the Terminal B which is one of the original two terminals. Only United Express operates out of Terminal B, but one day, you may see a Boeing 767, 777, or 787 parked at the gate.
Terminal C is the base of United’s domestic operations. It is divided into a north half and a south half. Terminal C South connects to Terminal E while Terminal C North connects to Terminal D.
United offered the terminal C north concourse space to the Houston Airport System to expand and rebuild Terminal D. The expansion will boast fifteen wide-body gates once completed.
The Houston Airport System says on its website that “It is with this reality in mind, that leaders with the Houston Airport System are moving forward with a dramatic and detailed plan to completely overhaul the Terminal D building at IAH. ” The current Terminal D will remain operational through the renovation and expansion, but there will be a lot of operational changes that will impact the terminal building.
At “Terminal D Industry Day” on March 13, 2014, airport executives addressed plans for the new terminal and provided an update on the renovation of Terminal B north.
Below are images of the phases of the Terminal D expansion and renovation from the PowerPoint presentation that was shown during “Terminal D Industry Day.” The airport intends to submit a request for proposal in the mid to late summer, begin construction by mid 2015, and wrap up by 2021.