DALLAS — United Airlines (UA) and the Houston Airport System (HAS) yesterday announced a landmark investment in United’s hub at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) with United’s Terminal B Transformation Program.
The project is set to redefine the air travel experience and cater to the future needs of an estimated 36 million passengers. The program encompasses the construction of 40 new gates for both domestic and international travel, ensuring a cutting-edge experience for travelers.
UA expects to invest more than US$1.9 billion in the Terminal B Transformation Program, and the City of Houston expects to fund $624 million in enabling projects required for the program. A timeline for the terminal expansion has not been announced.
The Terminal B renovation includes expanding curbside and roadway capacity and enlarging the ticketing lobby. Passengers will be able to easily find their way through the terminal thanks to dynamic signage. The ground level will house a check-in area, and the third floor will be a streamlined security processing area.
Updates to Both the South and North Wings
Once complete, the renovations of Terminal B North will offer two new passenger concourses, replacing the 1969-era flight stations. Spanning approximately 765,000 square feet over three levels, Terminal B North will house 22 narrow-body gates. Additionally, a large United Club at the mezzanine level will offer unobstructed views of the airfield, a boon for club members who are also plane spotters.
The major upgrade to Terminal B South Concourse will be converting 30 gates that currently house smaller, 50-seat regional jets to accommodate larger, two-class regional jets. Unlike in the current terminal, all flights will be boarded via a jet bridge.
The concourse design caters to a multitude of travelers and is expected to feature such amenities as a sensory room, a multimedia interactive United-branded “park,” and comfort zones for passengers with disabilities that provide a quiet space for those needing to decompress between TSA and boarding processing. The project will also include two major concession hubs, offering 115,000 square feet of food and retail space.
The baggage claim hall will be expanded, and a new baggage handling system, equipped with advanced baggage tracking technology, will support increased capacity.
Construction and Design With a Focus on Sustainability
The IAH Terminal B Transformation Program, spearheaded by the seasoned Program Management team at AvAirPros and STV, comprises three pivotal components:
- The Terminal B arrival and departure hall is designed by Page, a full-service design, architecture, and engineering firm based in Houston, and Grimshaw Architects, a London-based architectural firm, and will be constructed by Clark Construction.
- The Terminal B Concourses were designed by PGAL, a Houston-based international design firm specializing in architecture, interiors, and engineering, and built by Manhattan Construction, a Houston-based company.
- The Baggage Handling System will be designed by Siemens, employing their expertise in the design and construction of these highly technical systems.
Sustainability will be a cornerstone of the Terminal B Transformation project, with the aim of achieving LEED Silver certification for the new buildings. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement and represents a commitment to environmental responsibility in building design and construction.
The redevelopment project will seamlessly blend technology, passenger-centric design, and sustainable practices to create a world-class airport experience.
George Bush Intercontinental Airport is located 23 miles north of downtown Houston. The facility covers 10,000 acres (40 square kilometers) of land and has five runways. It is the busiest airport in Texas and the 15th busiest in the United States.
A group of Houston businessmen purchased the site for Bush Intercontinental Airport in 1957 to preserve it until the city of Houston could formulate a plan for a new airport as a replacement for William P. Hobby Airport (at the time known as Houston International Airport). The current facility, originally known as Houston Intercontinental Airport, opened in 1969. The IATA code IAH stands for Intercontinental Airport of Houston.
IAH comprises five terminals and 161 total gates and serves about 45 million passengers per year. UA is the largest carrier, with nearly 3000 scheduled departures every week to over 139 destinations, according to statistics provided by the airport.
Featured image: United Airlines Boeing 777-200 N74007. Photo: Joao Pedro/Airways