Bush Airport to Undergo Up to $1.5 Billion Makeover

Bush Airport to undergo up to up to $1.5 billion makeover_HBJ

Houston Business Journal
April 2, 2014


The Houston Airport System plans to demolish and build a new international terminal at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), officials said at a city council meeting on April 24.

The revamped Terminal D will be able to accommodate the plethora of new carriers flying in and out of IAH, and upgrade facilities. The project, which will take about five years to complete, could cost between $700 million and $1.5 billion and make the terminal 780,000 square feet.

The project will be paid for by bonds and money it regularly collects from airport facility charges, and no taxpayer money will be spent.


The revamp is vital to maintain Houston as an international hub for Chicago-based United Airlines, which the Houston Airport System will sign a memorandum of understanding with in the next 30 days.

United (NYSE: UAL) is also instrumental in Terminal D staying operational throughout the duration of the project. United will open part of Terminal C, which it controls exclusively, to other airlines with international flights. United also will speed up its renovations of north Terminal B, which is an up-to-$150 million project.


Currently, Terminal D has 12 gates, but only six of them can handle wide-body aircraft, which are necessary to fly international flights to Europe or Asia. The plan for the new Terminal D includes 15 international wide-body gates.

Terminal D serves about 2 million international passengers a year who are increasingly traveling to destinations in Asia.


  • Turkish Airlines expanded its Houston route to daily nonstop service on April 1.
  • Air China expanded its Beijing route to daily service on March 28.
  • United launched a second daily flight from Houston to Tokyo on March 30.
  • United launched a daily nonstop flight between Houston and Munich on April 24.
  • Scandinavian Airlines will launch a route from IAH to Norway in August, making it the only airline with nonstop service between Scandinavia and Houston.
  • Korean Air will expand its service to Seoul, South Korea, to daily on May 2.


The 20-year-old Mickey Leland International Terminal D, named after the former U.S. Representative from Texas who died in a plane crash, does not reflect Houston’s current standing as a world leader in business and quality of life.

In fact, the airport was cited on a 2013 report as having one of the longest U.S. Customs wait times. IAH’s average daily peak waiting time was 55.3 minutes, which ranked it eighth in the U.S. on the report by Global Gateway Alliance.