HOUSTON – United Airlines and the Houston Airport System (HAS) announced a landmark investment in United’s hub at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) with United’s Terminal B Transformation Program. This ambitious 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.
“This investment further supports United’s position as Houston’s carrier of choice,” said Phil Griffith, United’s Vice President of IAH. “On behalf of our more than 14,000 employees who call Houston home, I can’t wait to continue to do all we can to serve our customers flying to, from and through our hub on more than 400 flights each day.”
Travelers will find new convenience and amenities throughout their airport experience. The Terminal B transformation includes expanding curbside and roadway capacity, along with expanding the ticketing lobby, offering passengers convenience through dynamic signage, intuitive wayfinding systems and a ground-level check-in area. The third floor is expected to house a streamlined security processing area.
Once through security, the New Terminal B North expansion comprises two new passenger concourses, replacing the 1969-era Flight Stations. The Terminal B North Concourse, spanning approximately 765,000 square feet over three levels, will house 22 narrow-body gates. Additionally, a large United Club at the mezzanine level will offer unobstructed views of the airfield, set to become the largest club in the United system.
The Terminal B South Concourse project involves 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 jet bridge.
The concourse design caters to a multitude of travelers and is expected to feature amenities like a sensory room, a multimedia interactive United-branded “park,” and comfort zones for passengers with disabilities that provides a quiet space for those needing to decompress between TSA and boarding processing. The project will also include two major concessions hubs, offering 115,000 square feet of state-of-the-art food and retail space including unique dining and shopping experiences.
The baggage claim hall will be expanded, and a new baggage handling system, equipped with advanced baggage tracking technology, will support increased capacity.
“The expansion of Terminal B underscores the shared commitment between United Airlines and the City of Houston to enhance Bush Airport and Houston’s economy,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “This redevelopment program will bring nearly 3,000 new jobs to Houston. The bigger and more modern domestic terminal will amplify Houston’s reputation as a premier destination and cultivate even more opportunities for future economic development. As a global city and a sought-after destination, larger and more efficient aircraft flying to Houston will improve the passenger experience and support our promise to advance sustainable practices.”
United Airlines expects to invest more than $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. On Wednesday, November 15, 2023, Houston City Council approved and authorized a Memorandum of Agreement between the City of Houston and United Airlines. The City of Houston intends to submit, for City Council approval, requests for the appropriation of funds in several tranches over the course of the project.
The enabling project costs assumed by the City of Houston are fully recoverable over time and after the project’s completion through rates and charges payable by airlines and other operators at IAH with whom the City has agreements. The funding to be provided by the Houston Airport System enterprise fund is consistent with federal law as an appropriate use of airport revenues.
“The redevelopment of one of Bush Airport’s oldest terminals is a symbol of the crucial role air service plays in the economic vitality of Houston. Our long-standing partnership with United Airlines has led to this historic growth and revitalization opportunity for Houston Airports,” said Mario Diaz, Aviation Director for the City of Houston. “As we make significant progress on the new international terminal at Bush Airport to meet the growing demand for international travel, United Airlines’ Terminal B transformation will help Houston meet the growing demand for domestic travel. Today’s decision underscores our strategy to gain passengers’ trust by providing safe, clean, world-class facilities with outstanding 5-Star customer service.”
Construction and design
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 departures 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 designed by PGAL, a Houston-based international design firm specializing in architecture, interiors, engineering, and to be built by Manhattan Construction, a Houston-based company.
The Baggage Handling System, will be designed by Siemens’, employing their expertise in design and construction of these highly technical systems.
“At Clark Construction, we pride ourselves on building projects that matter to the communities where we live and work,” said Cara Lanigan, CEO of Clark Construction’s Central Group. “We’re humbled by the opportunity to work alongside United Airlines and the entire IAH Terminal B Transformation Team to enhance the traveler experience while creating job opportunities for the local Houston community.”
“Manhattan Construction Company is extremely proud of the successful and award-winning projects that we have constructed alongside United at IAH over the past 25 years,” says Jason Fuller, Vice President of Manhattan Construction Company. “We look forward to continuing this legacy on the Terminal B Transformation program. This is a milestone project that will provide great economic opportunities for local Houston businesses, as together we build an expanded and innovative concourse complex that will benefit our entire community. Manhattan’s core team for this project are Houstonians who have spent the bulk of their careers constructing aviation projects here at IAH, and we truly appreciate the opportunity to partner with United Airlines, the Houston Airport System, and all of our local trade contractors to deliver this landmark program.”
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.
The article United, Houston Airport System invest more than $2B in Terminal B transformation first appeared in TravelDailyNews International.